Homeless shelter that helps veterans losing thousands in funding

Posted at 7:12 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 22:12:35-04

State lawmakers and veterans groups are rallying around a Phoenix homeless shelter that provides services for homeless veterans in need.

It's a fight for those who fought for the country.

State Representative Mark Cardenas (D-AZ), a veteran himself, said he knows many vets who have received shelter and services at Central Arizona Shelter Services, also known as CASS.

"These are people that have put their lives on the line for you, gave up their best years for the community, and gave up their best years for the country," said Cardenas.

Mark Holleran, the CEO for CASS said the most frustrating part was not knowing why they were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The shelter had received the $550,000 in funding for more than the last decade.

Holleran said on Monday night, the shelter housed more than 400 people, 71 of them were veterans

"Usually if you've come to CASS, you have nothing, a lot of times you have no hope," said Holleran.

Lee Andrew Limbs III had been one of them. He stayed at CASS for four months at the worst time of his life.

Limbs described it as "rock bottom" and said the staff at CASS helped save his life.

Several lawmakers have reached out to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, asking for answers.

A spokeswoman from the department sent ABC15 the following statement: 

"The Department of Veterans Affairs has not made official notification to any of its grantees, but on December 23, 2016, VA issued a Federal Register notice along with follow-up calls to grantees to alert them that the Department would be terminating per diem payments for grants awarded from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 2016 under VA’s Homeless Providers’ GPD program. The change announced in December makes way for VA to update its two-decades’-old program, which was focused on transitional housing, to a program that meets today’s needs and encourages and seeks permanent housing. The goal of the early notification to grantees was to give them adequate time to make adjustments in the event their grant was impacted by this change. A formal letter to grantees will be issued shortly."

CASS staff said they planned to appeal the decision while looking for other sources of funding.