Clinic Partnership Has Helped Homeless Veterans Gain Benefits Over $3 Million

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University of Miami Law graduates have helped South Florida's homeless and at-risk Veterans collectively receive more than $3 million in benefits. An agreement between Miami Law's Health Rights Clinic and the nonprofit Purpose Built Families Foundation will provide funding for two law school Fellows to serve hundreds of South Florida Veterans over the next year.

Ryan Foley, J.D. '13

Miami Law graduate Ryan Foley has led the university's Health Rights Clinic's efforts to help homeless Veterans obtain earned benefits and navigate other legal issues that impact housing since 2013. As an Operation Sacred Trust Fellow, Foley will oversee legal services for the nearly 1,000 area Veteran families served by Purpose Built Families Foundation’s Operation Sacred Trust program each year. Miami Law graduate Erin Hoover will be assigned to the Operation Sacred Trust team as a Veterans Rights Project Fellow.

After completing law school, Foley became a member of the Florida Bar in 2013; Hoover in 2015. Both UM graduates have significantly devoted their legal careers to providing services for very low income military veterans.

Foley and Hoover both say they are "enormously grateful" to be able to give back to those who have served.

“Bringing an end to veteran homelessness requires a collaborative approach. The partnership we have created with Purpose Built Families Foundation gives us an opportunity to address the civil legal needs of military veterans when they need help the most,” Foley said.

In addition to the Health Rights Clinic, Purpose Built Families Foundation also works with the Miami VA Medical Center, Carrfour Supportive Housing, and PAIRS Foundation to provide eligible Veteran families with outreach, case management, and assistance with housing and other VA benefits.

Because of the strong efforts of organizations like Purpose Built Families Foundation and UM’s Health Rights Clinic, veteran homelessness is down significantly in South Florida. Last month, HUD Secretary Ben Carson traveled to Miami to commend Miami-Dade County for meeting HUD benchmarks indicating a high level of success disrupting veteran homeless.

"When homelessness happens, it should be brief, rare and non-recurring," Dr. Carson said during his visit.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in his confirmation hearings earlier this year: "Many of the issues I encountered as acting secretary were not with the quality of medical care but with getting our veterans through the door to reach that care."

"Secretary Wilkie has made it a priority to ensure veterans receive the highest level of customer service," Purpose Built CEO Seth Eisenberg said. "Our agreement with the University of Miami helps ensure veterans going through or facing homelessness have rapid, convenient access to professionals who can help them immediately begin creating the future they deserve."

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