Sheltering Veterans with Liberty

Out of the 10,000 homeless people in Hillsborough County, Florida, approximately 1,000 of them are veterans. Nationally, more than 100,000 veterans are homeless and Vietnam veterans make up more than half of that number. To drive that point home: there are more homeless Vietnam veterans than American casualties during Vietnam.

The people at 10015 North Ninth Street in Tampa, Florida help. This address boasts a two-story house and separate cottages. At this address, seventeen veterans live in a nonprofit, veteran assisting home aptly named Liberty Manor.

Liberty Manor, as well as the four other centers run by the nonprofit organization (one in Largo and the other three in Hillsborough County) exists to serve one function: aid struggling veterans back into civilian life and the people at Liberty Manor have been accomplishing this goal since 2006.

Despite places like Liberty Manor existing, there is a grave shortage of shelters available. The return of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will undoubtedly strain resources already in great demand. Hillsborough County sadly boasts the highest rate of homeless people in the state. To compound this tragedy, there are currently only approximately 1,500 beds available; there is no way to help everybody.

Liberty Manor currently serves mostly Vietnam-era veterans. According to their director, a former homeless veteran himself, the influx of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will emulate the demands Liberty Manor serves as a result of Vietnam. This will present a dire strain not only on their resources, but on the resources of the federal government.

Liberty Manor was opened four years ago as a supplement to the assistance the VA provides veterans. Unfortunately, with all that the VA does, housing is not their priority. While Liberty Manor is not the perfect living facility, it does have one big advantage: veterans helping other veterans.