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Veteran's Outreach Center teams up with city to help homeless veterans

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Adam Smith is a Navy veteran and a father, but coming home was harder than being out at sea.

"It was rough. If it wasn't for me having a car, I wouldn't have had shelter over my head," said Smith.

The Veteran's Outreach Center helped put a roof over his son's head and filled it with furniture. Now partnering with the city of Utica, the center's founder hopes to help even more veterans like Adam.

"Having their support will definitely allow us to leverage or at least attempt to leverage more funds from the federal and state government. That's the big thing. Also the outreach. The biggest problem when you're dealing with people in need is they don't know what services are available to them and we don't know where they are so being able to utilize the city to help us do outreach and make people aware of what's going on down here will allow us to reach more people in need and help them," said Sgt. Vincent Scalise, who founded the center eight years ago.

Now that Smith is off the streets and in a home of his own he's doing his part to help others still out there struggling. He designed a T-shirt and posted it on Booster.com, hoping to raise enough money to renovate a local home for veterans.

"Because I know how hard it is to be on the streets and struggle and to be jobless, homeless and not have a penny to your name and to get these other veterans off the streets who have given up on the system and give back to them because they served the country would be big," said Smith.

The outreach center is seeing an increase of 20 homeless veterans a month. The Department of Housing and Urban Development says Utica is now a focus city.

"I'm going to spend my time here, my staff is going to spend significant time looking at the issues of homelessness, veteran homelessness, housing in general and community development," said Jamie Forero, Field Office Director.

That's because, "One story like Adam's makes it worth it," said Sgt. Scalise.

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