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‘Stand Down’ event provides homeless veterans with medical and job assistance

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SAN DIEGO -- The 29th annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, which offers participants a variety of services like medical checkups, new clothing, job counseling and housing assistance, began Friday morning at San Diego High School.

The three-day event started in 1988 in San Diego as a way to help former military members get off the streets and put their lives back together, and it has since spread around the nation.

Nearly 1,000 veterans are served by hundreds of volunteers each year.

The regional Point-in-Time Count of the homeless population in January tallied 573 unsheltered veterans, down from 631 last year, according to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless. Another 584 resided in shelters.

The situation could be improving even further. The mayor's office announced Wednesday that more than 200 former military members who had been homeless now have a place to live thanks to the Housing Our Heroes program, adopted by the City Council in April.

The $12.5 million program, funded with a mix of federal and local funds, provides incentives to landlords who rent to homeless veterans. The program has benefited 18 families encompassing 34 children, according to the mayor's office.

More than 130 others have qualified for the housing program and are in the process of finding a rental apartment or house. It typically takes one to four weeks to find housing once an individual qualifies.

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