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New Arizona pilot program launches to help unemployed veterans

Posted at 9:44 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-15 01:25:21-04
Arizona is taking a proactive approach to ending homelessness among veterans starting with an innovative program to get them working again.
There are over 600,000 veterans statewide and nearly 1,000 are homeless, according to the Arizona Department of Veteran's Services. 
The department conducted an outreach program statewide to ask veterans how the state can help.
"One of the common things was that if I had certain tools you know... if I had transportation I would be able to get to work," said Gary Ochoa, the department's southern region manager.
Ochoa says the department launched a new pilot program called Veteran Tool Kit to help unemployed veterans get supplies they need to start working. 
"Lets say a person is not able to get to work and they have a car that needs repairs... they will help them or maybe they need a bike to get to work we can purchase a bike we can get them to work or even a bus pass," he explained.
Ochoa says the money can be used for transportation, clothes or any tools like hard hats for job sites that require safety equipment and each veteran can spend up to $750.  
The department found 62% of veterans said if they had this type of program it would help them get work. 
"Unfortunately there are a lot of folks out there that are trying to get jobs and just hitting a wall and you see families who are going through a lot... broken homes where there is potential for homelessness, not being able to keep the lights on you know they have children in the house," he said.
For a veteran to qualify for the program, they must live in Arizona, be enrolled in an Arizona Department of Economic Security Employment program and identify the job and supplies they need. 
Ochoa says this program isn't funded through taxes-- the money is from veteran patriotic license plates and $17 of the $25 will help veterans work again.
To apply for the program, Ochoa says to go into any Department of Security office and speak with a veteran specialist.