TEMPLE — A Veterans Affairs grant will help homeless veterans in Central Texas pay rent, learn to manage a budget and be a better parent; however, the assistance is limited and participants must meet specific requirements.

“They do need to be extremely low income,” said Suzanne Armour, program director for Killeen’s Families in Crisis, which is getting half of the $1.2 million grant. The veterans must have an honorable discharge.

Families in Crisis is a nonprofit organization that houses and supports people experiencing family violence, sexual violence and homelessness. The grant will serve 210 at-risk veteran households annually.

The Killeen agency and Caritas of Austin will split the grant, with Families in Crisis receiving $660,433.

The grant will serve veterans in Bastrop, Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Travis and Williamson counties.

Families in Crisis has been receiving money from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program since 2012.

By working with community nonprofit agencies, the VA has enlisted valuable partners in its effort to end homelessness in the veteran populations, according to a VA release. The program provides rental assistance and supportive services for veterans and their families.

Through the grant, families receive life-skill classes that include budgeting information, parenting information and job skill instruction, Armour said.

The agency also helps veterans navigate through the process of gaining VA benefits and other public services.

“We have staff that are qualified to help our clients apply for Social Security,” she said.

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families program provides for five months of rental assistance, said William Hall, director of operations for Families in Crisis.

“We’ve had some very positive feedback from a lot of the veterans who have gone through the program,” Armour said.

It only takes one event to put a family in a financial tailspin, and veterans struggle when they have to live on less than when they were active duty, she said.

“It can put you at risk of homelessness or even make you homeless, whether that’s job loss, the car breaking down, or someone has an illness and can’t work,” Armour said.

This program is helpful for those who are just about to start a job, she said. The rental assistance can get the family back on its feet quickly.

This is the program’s fourth year. The VA estimates the grants will serve about 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans’ families nationwide.

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