About Camillus House
When Camillus House was first founded in 1960, it provided meals and spiritual comfort to large numbers of Cuban exiles assembled on the shore of Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami. Over the years, Camillus has grown steadily into a full service center offering a “system of care” for persons who are poor and homeless. Camillus House is the largest self-contained system of care specifically designed to address the needs for persons who are homeless in Miami-Dade County. Programs are targeted to serve the hardest to reach and poorest members of the community, particularly those that are chronically homeless, or living on the streets for 12 months or four episodes of homelessness in the last three years.
The Camillus House mission is to provide compassionate hospitality and respect for life through direct services of food, clothing, shelter, addiction counseling, mental health services, job training, and health care to the poor and homeless of South Florida.
How DVNF’s Grant Will Help Camillus House
With generous support from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF), Camillus House aims to further enhance and better serve the veterans’ population by creating the Somerville Veterans Village (SVV). Through the SVV, Camillus House will serve between 100-125 veterans through the provision of housing and supportive services.
This new, veterans-specific program is designed to address the needs of veterans at the different stages of their reintegration into the community. The ultimate objective of this unique program is to build a supportive community for veterans to heal, rehabilitate and reintegrate into civilian life.
Specifically, the gift of $25,000 from the DVNF will be used to cover the capital expenses associated with transforming an existing property owned by Camillus House to create the SVV.
Mr. Shelton’s Story
Camillus House had the pleasure of assisting one of our Army veterans, Mr. Shelton, who was homeless for around two months. Mr. Shelton enlisted in 1986 and served in the army for eight years.
During his first four years of service, he worked as a warehouse supply specialist in Germany. In 1990, Mr. Shelton enlisted a second time for four more years and worked as a computer specialist. While there, he was part of a military intelligence unit during Desert Storm and afterwards, he was stationed in Maryland. In 1995, he was honorably discharged from the military as an E4, Corporal.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, in 2016 Mr. Shelton became homeless. In November, Mr. Shelton came into Camillus House. During his stay at Camillus House, we were able to assist him with his housing and basic needs. Mr. Shelton was very grateful for the opportunity to have his service dog “Buddy” stay at our kennel while he was receiving Camillus services. He even assisted in cleaning the kennel and walking the other dogs, which he found very therapeutic.
After a couple of weeks, Mr. Shelton received his HUD-VASH voucher and found an apartment to live independently. When Mr. Shelton first arrived at Camillus he was homeless, had no income or means to provide for himself. Today, he and Buddy are still living in the apartment we originally found for him, is gainfully employed and has the comfort of knowing his needs are met.
He is very grateful for the services that Camillus House gave to him and the opportunity to start his new journey. There is no greater feeling of patriotism than being able to serve our veterans like Mr. Shelton.
Why Camillus House is So Important
According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness:
“Veterans experience homelessness for many of the same reasons non-Veterans do, including economic and personal hardships, a shortfall of affordable housing as well as exposure to combat and repeated deployments. Veterans also experience high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma…or other effects that challenge their ability to find employment and build stable relationships.”
Additionally, in the State of Florida Council on Homelessness’ 2017 Annual Report, there are 2,789 reported homeless veterans in Florida. Meanwhile, according to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s January 2017 Point-In-Time count, there are 167 on-street homeless veterans living in Miami-Dade County, which is simply unwarranted.
For these reasons and more, Camillus House developed the SVV. Tending to the present and persistent needs of veterans in Miami-Dade County, the SVV will be able to serve veterans and help them to reintegrate back into the community.
Support from the DVNF will provide the necessary capital funds to retrofit a Camillus owned property equipped to house between 100-125 veterans. With these vital funds, Camillus will have the necessary resources to build, develop and create a comprehensive housing community for veteran to heal and grow amongst each other.
It is important for the veterans that we serve to be housed in a safe, therapeutic, and inviting environment. This generous grant from the DVNF will help Camillus to do just that. Serving those who so selflessly protected our nation’s freedom is a responsibility Camillus House is proud to meet alongside our valued partner, the DVNF.