S:US Helps End Chronic Veteran Homelessness in NYC
He’s a veteran who wrote a memoir which helped inspire a film starring Richard Gere. But you may be surprised to read that while writing, 65-year old Thomas Wagner, known to many as Cadillac Man, was the focus of several city agencies who worked tirelessly to find him a permanent home. That’s because for nearly 20 years Cadillac had been chronically homeless.
Last month the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio thanking him for ending chronic veteran homelessness in New York City (NYC). While NYC wasn’t the first city achieve this milestone (Phoenix and Salt Lake City ended chronic veteran homelessness in 2013 and 2014, respectively), NYC is the largest city to do so and we are pleased to announce that S:US played an important role in making that wonderful outcome possible. In 2015, the de Blasio administration found homes for around 1,000 chronically homeless veterans, many housed through the services of S:US.
The term “chronically homeless” refers to individuals who are on the street for a year or more, and who have had at least four separate episodes of homelessness in the past three years. Although S:US continues to work with veterans who are temporarily homeless after returning from deployment, we no longer have any chronic homeless veterans in our system.
In a statement to reporters from Observer.com, HUD Secretary Julian Castro remarked, “Our veterans, those who have bravely served our nation in uniform, deserve nothing less than a safe, stable home. New York City has today reached a critical milestone by effectively ending chronic veteran homelessness.”
Cadillac is one of the last chronically homeless veterans for whom S:US helped find permanent housing. In fact, it was only when S:US became part of his housing solution that Cadillac was able to move into his beautiful, new apartment in Astoria, Queens from where he looks out to the viaduct he slept under for more than a dozen years.
When asked what it feels like to finally be handed the keys to a place of his own, Cadillac expressed his relief and gratitude, “It’s unbelievable. After all these years, to go back inside, to have a stove and a refrigerator. It’s remarkable… I never had this much help before from so many people and organizations with so much compassion. The process has restored my faith in human kind, that there are people genuinely concerned with my wellbeing.”
Click here to read more about Cadillac’s incredible journey from life on the streets to a safe, beautiful home.