SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Santa Clara County and the city of San Jose made a bold promise at the Veterans Day Parade in 2015. Three years later, they have renewed that promise to help homeless veterans.
Crowds gathered Sunday for San Jose’s Veterans Day Parade on the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.
Ever since the “All the Way Home” program launched in 2015, officials have housed over 1,200 vets. On Sunday, officials announced they would renew All the Way.
The program has helped people like Walter White, a vet who served for more than 20 years, including time as a helicopter gunner in Vietnam.
“And this is it. I’m in the process of putting everything together,” said White.
He asked KPIX 5 cameras to pardon the mess as he was in the midst of rearranging the downtown San Jose apartment he shares with another military buddy.
When asked what its like to have a roof over his head, White replied, “A blessing. A true blessing. ‘Cause I was homeless for a while.”
Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese launched the program when there were roughly 700 homeless vets on the streets.
It’s estimated another 500 vets become homeless in the county every year.
“We are far from declaring ‘Mission Accomplished,'” said Liccardo. “We’re now finally bending the curve. We’re finally getting veterans housed more quickly than they’re being pushed out into homelessness. That is important progress. But by no means have we accomplished our goal of ending veteran’s homelessness, so we’re going to keep charging in the years ahead.”
Cortese says they have signed up 740 new landlords to participate in the program and are actively recruiting more.
“We have one landlord that’s housed 46 veterans all by herself,” said Cortese. “And we realize that people with extra room in their homes, they can house the homeless as well. They’ve done that a lot for veterans.”
That landlord who helped 46 vets is known around San Jose is named Kazih-Nelly Amas Windham, but is perhaps better known as “Miss Nellie.”
Shes got a message for developers.
“It’s not about money all the time,” said Amas Windham. “It’s about humanity.”
Miss Nellie is submitting plans to build a brand new apartment complex downtown with 218 new units. She says half of them wll go to homeless vets.
“They are God’s people,” said Amas Windham. “You take them in, you clean them up, you assist them, and you keep them. And that is God’s people.”
White says developers should give vets a chance.
“Hey, let’s give these veterans something back. We’ve put a lot into this country. And a lot of brothers lost their lives trying to make this country great,” said White.
The county, the city of San Jose, the nonprofit Destination: Home and local landlords will work together to extend the program for at least two more years in the hopes of reaching a 100 percent housing goal.
Santa Clara County has allocated about $3 million toward the project and the San Jose City Council will vote on a $1 million veteran subsidy in December, potentially building on its $4 million property rehabilitation fund.
“We must fulfill the moral obligation we have to ensure every veteran has a roof over their head,” San Jose Mayor Liccardo said in a news release.