New Directions for Veterans has provided comprehensive services to thousands of veterans in LA County.
Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless military veterans in the nation. The LA Homeless Services Authority estimates that more than 4,000 homeless veterans live on our streets. Many of these men and women suffer from Co-Occurring Disorders, including substance abuse, mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as chronic medical problems.
Since 1992, New Directions for Veterans (NDVets) has provided comprehensive services to thousands of veterans in Los Angeles County. Founded by two formerly homeless Vietnam veterans and a local advocate for homeless persons, NDVets initially operated out of a five-bedroom home serving eight homeless Vietnam War veterans. We now operate four Transitional Housing Programs, a rapid re-housing and homelessness prevention program called Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), and four Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) facilities in Los Angeles County, with additional projects in the pipeline.
NDVets offers a wide array of services. These include substance abuse treatment, counseling, remedial education, job training and placement, as well as parenting and money management classes. Legal and tax assistance are available, as is an active aftercare program and resources for alumni. Veterans leave NDVets with a savings account, housing, a job or other income, computer skills, renewed self-confidence and the support of mentors and peers. Such a transformation takes hard work, motivation and accountability, but the results are life altering—and for many veterans, life-saving.
We are actively part of a national commitment via the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act to end veteran homelessness by 2015. In 2014, we served more than 1,100 veterans and their family members and provided permanent housing to more than 250 veterans through our PSH facilities and voucher-based rental assistance.
NDVets is proud to be a member of the Westside Shelter & Hunger Coalition, which is committed to ending local hunger and homelessness through service coordination, public education, and advocacy. The Coalition’s new Strategic Plan was made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
The New Directions for Veterans mission is to empower men and women who served in the military, and their families, to lead productive and fulfilling lives.
New Directions for Veterans is committed to building a national community in which all at-risk veterans and their families lead lives of honor, dignity, well-being, and respect.
Since its inception, New Directions has been a powerful advocate for veterans and their families.
John Keaveney served 2 tours of duty in Vietnam as an Army combat infantryman and left Vietnam in 1972 with a multi-use drug problem. For the next 11 years, he alternated between homelessness and incarceration until 1983, when he was court-committed to a Veterans Administration (VA) drug rehabilitation program called New Directions. When budget cuts closed down the VA program in 1988, John Keaveney, Larry Williams, and another veteran created their own nonprofit, New Directions, Inc., in honor of the program that saved their lives.
In 1991, John met Toni Reinis, an advocate for the homeless who had founded SOVA Kosher Food Pantry and served as Southern California Director of the California Homeless and Housing Coalition. Toni and John established an immediate rapport, and they decided to work together to assist the large number of homeless veterans in Los Angeles County.
In 1992, New Directions acquired its first property, a home accommodating up to eight veterans. Clients could receive up to two years of housing, as well as clothing, substance abuse treatment, and job training.
In 1994, New Directions became the first social service agency in the country to provide temporary housing and services to homeless female veterans at Mitchell House in Mar Vista.
Invoking Title V of the McKinney Act, John and Toni petitioned the VA to lease New Directions a 60,000 sq. ft. vacant building that could be converted to a homeless facility. Finally, after years of congressional intervention, litigation and support from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), New Directions was able to sign an unprecedented 50-year lease for the building in 1995. The agency raised $5 million in capital funds from government entities, and numerous individuals, businesses and groups helped furnish and equip the 156-bed Veteran Opportunity Center (VOC).
Impressed by New Directions’ success in treating hundreds of veterans recovering from drugs and alcohol, the VA asked Toni and John to create a residential treatment center for veterans suffering from both substance abuse and chronic mental illness. In 2002, Veteran Opportunity Center North began housing and treating homeless veterans with co-occurring disorders. In its first year, Veteran Opportunity Center North served more than 100 clients. In 2007, the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund (IADIF) awarded New Directions a $2.75 million grant to launch Operation Welcome Home, a program designed specifically to assist veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) as they transition back to civilian life. Chris’s Place, a six-bedroom residence for recently returned OEF/OIF veterans, was opened in the spring of 2008.
In the summer of 2013, NDVets sold Chris’ Place and reinstalled the plaque honoring the memory of Chris Russell at the Veteran Opportunity Center. Today about 25 percent of the veterans in our programs are Post 9/11. Not only had the house been outgrown, but it no longer served a distinctive programmatic purpose.
With a budget in excess of $10 million annually, New Directions for Veterans employs a team of professionals who in 2013 assisted over 1,000 veterans and family members in reaching their goals through the agency’s three program areas. These include the original transitional housing program dating to 1992 that offers A to Z supportive services geared to assist homeless veterans who wish to permanently exit homelessness. In 2011 in partnership with the V.A’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program (SSVF) and the Los Angeles United Way’s Home for Good initiative, NDVets launched its housing stability program, which offers both homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing services for veteran families at-risk of homelessness. In the fall of 2013 NDVets began delivering services to 147 veterans living in permanent supportive housing apartments New Directions Sepulveda – our first permanent supportive housing project, developed in partnership with A Community of Friends and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The El Monte Veterans Village is now leasing up, and the Grand Opening of these 40 apartments for homeless veterans is slated for March 2014. Construction is underway at The Beswick Senior Apartments in Boyle Heights, where 32 homeless senior veterans will find housing, and additional developments that will provide even more permanent supportive housing are in the pipeline.