Labor awards grants for training homeless vets

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The Department of Labor is awarding $15 million in grants that it says will provide 8,600 homeless veterans with job training.

The funding is intended to assist in the Obama administration’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.

“This is a complicated challenge that requires an ‘all hands on deck’ response,” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

The number of homeless veterans is below 60,000, according to Solis. Figures released by the Department of Veteran Affairs in December reported that 67,495 veterans were homeless in the United States on a single night in January 2011.

“We’re making some progress, but have to do more,” Solis said.

The grant money is being allocated to 64 groups around the country, including state and local workforce investment boards, and local public agencies, as well as faith-based and community organizations.

More such job training grants will probably be awarded over the next several years, according to Ismael “Junior” Ortiz, deputy assistant secretary of labor for veterans’ employment and training.

Labor will also provide $19 million for existing grants that provide job training, job search and placement assistance, according to the department.

Ortiz said he believes the goal of ending veterans homelessness by 2015 is realistic. “I truly do,” he said. “I think the goal is achievable.”

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