VA to end funding to shelter's veteran program

Posted: Updated:
(Source: City of Phoenix) (Source: City of Phoenix)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

The largest provider of shelter and supportive services in the Phoenix Metro area appears to be losing its funding for its veterans program.

The Central Arizona Shelter Services, CASS, has been helping homeless veterans since opening its doors in 1984.

For many years, CASS has received funding from the Veterans Administration Grant Per Diem (GPD) program.

Those funds, according to CASS CEO Mark Holleran, totaled about $500,000 this past fiscal year. The money paid for 43 veteran-specific beds at the shelter and about 10 staff personnel to tend to veteran-specific needs.

According to a VA spokesman in Washington, D.C., the CASS for next year’s GDP was reviewed and scored and CASS did not receive a conditional selection from the program. Final award announcements will be made in early September, but it appears CASS will not receive the funding. The VA would not specifically say what aspects of the program did not meet their requirements or standards.

"We have updated program requirements to ensure resources go to where they best align with veterans’ needs. As we move forward, we will work to be responsive to the rapidly changing needs of homeless veterans and ensure our current capacity to serve these veterans will not be affected."

[RELATED: 140 Valley veterans lose home care services, put on wait list]

“We have all the insight to things that deal with veterans, so, we can get them to the right services,” said Kenneth Ray, the Lead Veteran Case Manager at CASS.

Ray explained the VA GDP money pays for a lot of additional services and items that non-veterans do not receive at the CASS.

“When a guy is here and he moves out into permanent housing we load them up with tables, we give them pots, pans, things like that. Things to get them started in a new place,” said Ray.

[RELATED: Veterans accuse nonprofit of putting money ahead of their housing]

On average CASS moves 10 veterans a month out of the shelter and into permanent housing.

“We always say we're trying to push ourselves out of a job. We're trying to get these beds empty,” said Ray.

Ray may be out of a job if CASS leaders cannot convince the VA to reconsider its grant application.

Two other non-profits in the Phoenix-Metro area were conditionally selected for the GDP award. U.S. VETS, which has 66 homeless veteran beds and Mana House, which has 49 veteran beds.

But those organizations received the same funding as last year, so they will not be able to absorb the 43 beds lost at CASS.

According to a VA spokesman, the VA will ensure the needs of homeless veterans will be met in Phoenix and our current capacity to serve local veterans will not be affected.

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

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Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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