Helping homeless Veterans find housing is a passion Ken Leslie feels deep in his bones. He is the founder and “Chief Advocate Officer” for the non-profit Veterans Matter. While Ken never served in the military, at one time he himself was homeless and living off the streets.
As a traveling standup comedian in the 1980’s Ken began to notice a greater number of homeless around the country. This led him to start a homeless project in his hometown of Toledo. In 2007 John Mellencamp stopped by the tent city and invited all of the homeless to his concert. One of the attendees mentioned to Ken “John talked to us from the stage. I guess I really DO matter.” That was the beginning of the 1Matters non-profit. A host of other celebrities like Veteran and Country Western singer Craig Morgan have also joined the cause.
While participating in a homeless outreach with a friend, Ken learned that the lack of deposits was preventing many Veterans from taking advantage of VA housing vouchers. In one case, a mere $150 was keeping a 67 year old disabled Veteran on the streets in the rain for another three days. Ken expanded his mission with the addition of Veterans Matter.
Their cloud base program can cover deposits for Veterans, in many cases the same day. So far they have housed over 4,000 Veterans and their families. Their partnership with VA “wraparound” programming has resulted in 91% remaining in housing.
It is estimated that there are 40,000 Veterans without housing in the US. Veterans who are experiencing challenges can also call the National Center for Homeless Veterans: (877) 424-3838
TAKEAWAY: “Every day I wake up and I know that somewhere out there is a Veteran on his hands and knees praying for a way to find that deposit so he and his family can get into housing. Every single person has the power to make a difference.”