Veteran gets home through VA program after WBTV investigation
ASHEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - A once-homeless veteran has a home of his own, months after a WBTV investigation questioned why the US Department of Veterans Affairs refused to offer the veteran further assistance.
In September, WBTV first talked with Greg Armento. At the time, Armento was being made to leave a long-term living facility for homeless veterans operated by an Asheville charity. The facility was paid to provide Armento food and shelter through a VA-funded program known as gr ant Per Diem, which pays a facility daily to shelter homeless veterans.
Armento filed a federal lawsuit against the organization that runs the Asheville shelter earlier in 2017, claiming supervisors at the facility violated federal labor laws by forcing Armento to perform unpaid labor.
The facility has denied those claims.
In September, when Armento was being forced from the long-term shelter, social workers at the Asheville VA Medical Center had told Armento they would not be able to help him find additional housing and, instead, suggested he plan to say at an emergency shelter overnight.
But that changed after WBTV's investigation.
Instead of being forced onto the streets, the VA paid for Armento to stay in a hotel while he searched for a new place to live.
Now, Armento is living in a one bedroom apartment paid for through a program known as HUD-VASH. The program is a partnership between the VA and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Previous story: VA lets veteran become homeless after pledging to help
"You and your news team stepped in and interceded on my behalf with the VA and they took another look at my case and decided 'OK, we're not going to leave any veterans behind'," Armento said in a recent interview.
Armento, who is enrolled full time at a local community college, was able to find an apartment one mile from school.
"I'm very happy with where I'm living now," Armento said. "And I'm really kind of enjoying my life."
Armento said his lawsuit against his old shelter is still pending in federal court.
WBTV has a records request pending with the VA to uncover more information about the operations of the Asheville shelter. So far, the VA has yet to disclose all of the requested records, as required by law.
Similarly, Armento said he has a pending Freedom of Information Act request with the VA that officials continue promising to fulfill but have yet to provide any records.
But, for now, Armento is happy with his situation.
"With you interceding, there was an about-face and the HUD-VASH program pretty much literally saved my life," he said.
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