Bergen County first county in New Jersey to find homes for all its homeless veterans
Bergen County has become the first county in New Jersey to find homes for all of its homeless veterans.
Bergen County officials say that of the 37,000 veterans in the county, more than 100 had nowhere to live.
"Very few of them would come to us for shelter. They were on the streets, they were on couches, they were just avoiding being public of their homelessness," says Bergen County Emergency Shelter Executive Director Mary Sunden.
A nationwide challenge to end veteran homelessness began in January 2015. Bergen County was the first in New Jersey and one of 31 counties nationwide to reach this goal.
Various affordable homes were built around the county to house the veterans who had nowhere else to go.
"Seeing them actually walk in and put a key to the door and then the flood of that emotion...they looked around somewhat stunned," says Bergen County Executive James Tedesco.
Tedesco and other county leaders will head to the White House on Monday to be honored along with other counties that met the goal. Ending veteran homelessness was a large initiative for First Lady Michelle Obama as well as Jill Biden.
"I hope others will look at this and do the same thing," Tedesco says.
County leaders say that they will continue to work to better the lives of veterans.
"We sit down and go through every name of every veteran that is homeless and find a way to best serve him or her," says Sunden.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there has been a 17 percent drop in veteran homelessness since 2015.