$4.2M Federal Grant Will Help Us House Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

United Way Priority Veteran will provide more services to Alabama’s veterans than ever before
United Way Priority Veteran staff pose for a picture on United Way of Central Alabama’s campus in Birmingham.

After 10 years of operation in the state of Alabama, which has seen homelessness among veterans decrease by 40% in that same time, United Way Priority Veteran has received its largest grant ever from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), totaling $4,217,748.

Priority Veteran is specifically dedicated to helping veterans experiencing homelessness and their families throughout the state, as well as veterans who are at immediate risk of losing their homes, find and secure affordable, sustainable housing.

Each year, the primary source of funding for Priority Veteran is an annual grant from the VA through Supportive Services for Veteran Families. This year’s total is almost $2 million more than the amount awarded last year.

The extra funding will enable Priority Veteran to increase the number of veterans served, services provided and build up the program’s staff.

Drew Langloh, United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA) President and CEO, said this funding means even more veteran support is coming.

“In the 10 years that Priority Veteran has sought to keep our veterans and their families in homes, we have made significant progress toward that goal,” Langloh said. “We are excited to see the increase in service provision and service quality that this increased funding will bring.”

In 2023 alone, Priority Veteran helped 619 military veterans who were either experiencing homelessness or at immediate risk of eviction. Of those who completed the program, 90% were able to get back into either temporary or permanent housing.

Dr. Ladi Kukoyi, CEO/Executive Director of the Birmingham VA Health Care System, said the strength of the effort to house and keep veterans housed “lies in unity and collaboration.”

“Our work at the Birmingham VA Health Care System is significantly enhanced by the support and dedication of partners like Priority Veteran and United Way,” Kukoyi said. “These organizations are vital in helping us fulfill our mission of providing necessary housing for veterans and their families who are experiencing hardships, no matter the cause.”

Lula Skowronek, Director of Priority Veteran, said she appreciates the added support for filling a need which is so prevalent in Alabama and across the country.

“This added funding will enable us to do more for our veterans than ever before,” Skowronek said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with this opportunity for our staff to make an even greater impact in the lives of a population which is so deserving of our support.”

Priority Veteran will also be hiring three more people to help its statewide operation ‑‑ two new housing specialists, who will recruit landlords agreeing to partner with Priority Veteran, and an eligibility specialist, who will help to make the program even more efficient.

“These veterans have all made sacrifices for our country,” Skowronek said, “and we feel privileged to be on the front lines of helping these heroes transition home.”

Ahmad Brewer, Homeless Program Coordinator for the Birmingham VA, said this year’s grant given to UWCA “not only marks a monumental achievement in our collective effort but also underscores the importance of our joined forces in making a difference in the lives of those who have served our country.”

“We depend on our partners to reach our shared goal of reducing veteran homelessness, and together,” Brewer said, “we continue to make significant strides towards ensuring every veteran in Alabama has a place to call home.”

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About Priority Veteran

Priority Veteran provides intensive one-on-one counseling and assistance to help military veterans locate stable permanent housing while providing connections to resources that help them gain the skills and knowledge needed to remain financially stable. The program serves every county in Alabama except Mobile and Baldwin.

Visit Priority Veteran's Website