Homeless on the streets of Boston, Jeremiah Pinto and his family moved to the Bronx where they jumped from shelter to shelter, struggling to regain some semblance of their former lives.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Pinto said he never imagined being among the more than 62,000 former members of the armed services who find themselves homeless on any given night.
"It's just not something you even think of; why would you?" Pinto said with his two children seated next to him at a news conference Monday with congressional representatives. "I was successful after the Navy, but then I lost my job and it all went downhill from there."
Pinto said his family eventually got back on their feet, moving to White Plains and keeping his Section 8 rent subsidy with assistance from a Westchester-based agency.
Now that agency, Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP), is receiving funding to help another 450 families like his.
Congressional Reps. Nita Lowey, Sean Patrick Maloney and Eliot Engel announced a $2.4 million grant Monday to WestCOP and another agency, the Hudson River Housing Program. The new funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will aid some 700 families in all in the Hudson Valley, preventing at-risk veterans from becoming homeless and rehousing those who currently find themselves on the streets.
"The sad reality is that homelessness plagues far too many of our nation's veterans and their families," Lowey said at the news conference at WestCOP in Elmsford. "With these badly needed funds, fewer of our veterans in the Lower Hudson Valley will be without a roof over their head. We must continue our work to ensure that, one day, no one who bravely wore the uniform ever finds themselves or their family on the streets."