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Mar 8, 2016 5:42 PM

Landrigan: Formerly homeless NH vets lobby to allow more to move to permanent housing

NH1.com

NASHUA - Keith Dawson, a 20-year Coast Guard and Army veteran who served four deployments, ended up on the streets of Manchester, living under a tarp.

"I retired in 2014 and then you kind of fall through the cracks," Dawson told NH1 during an interview.

Frank Soto faced the same crisis, a Vietnam War veteran who came back to a country that hated the conflict.

"When I was homeless, it was hard; living in three different places I didn’t know where to go I was scared," Soto said.

Both credit the Partnership for Successful Living and Harbor Homes of Nashua with rescuing them with temporary housing.

"And if it wasn’t for their support and everything, I’d probably still be out on the streets right now," Soto maintained.

On Tuesday, Gov. Maggie Hassan and housing officials announced a unique partnership to give 25 veterans vouchers for permanent housing in the community. This will open up more slots for temporary housing.

"Veterans are more than twice as likely as other Americans to experience chronic homelessness and it’s simply unacceptable," Hassan said.

The goal is "functional zero," meaning no veterans without a home.

"Since the beginning of our collaborative effort we have seen a dramatic drop in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness. The finish line is truly in sight," said Peter Kelleher, CEO of Harbor Homes.

These two vets are doing well. Frank Soto working for the VA. And Keith Dawson?

"Finishing up my nursing degree; I’m starting a brand new job as an LNA, moving on," Dawson says to applause from the crowd at today’s announcement.

Chief Political Correspondent Kevin Landrigan sums up, "Once the 25 veterans find permanent housing, the vouchers could go to other veterans who need it.’’

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