(December 16, 2015, New York) – Calling it a “Christmas miracle” and “the best holiday present,” leaders of HELP USA congratulated today the Las Vegas Valley for achieving “functional zero” among its homeless military veterans population.

Late last week, the Las Vegas Valley was certified as having met the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness, a national initiative established in 2014 by First Lady Michelle Obama. Achieving “functional zero” means that the valley has enough resources to house every homeless veteran.

In 2011, there were 1,169 homeless veterans in the valley. In calendar year 2015, Las Vegas non-profit organizations placed 950 veterans into permanent housing, and nearly 300 of those veterans were placed by programs operated by HELP USA. The New York-based nonprofit, a national leader in homelessness prevention and service delivery, has developed and operates four permanent and transitional residences and rapid re-housing and support service programs in Nevada. Nationally, HELP USA provides an array of housing and support services for more than 1,500 homeless and formerly homeless veterans annually in New York, Philadelphia, Newark,NJ, and Buffalo,NY, in addition to Las Vegas.

“The men and women who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces have sacrificed so much so that we may enjoy our freedoms and democratic ideals,” said Maria Cuomo Cole, HELP USA’s chairman. “Long after the fighting on the battlefield ends, far too many come home but their battle continues. They struggle to readjust to civilian life and reintegrate into society and wind up on the streets. So, for the Las Vegas Valley to now have the means and ability to put a roof over their heads and to provide them with the services their need to regain their dignity and transform their lives is a Christmas miracle. It is the best holiday present for them. So we congratulate the Valley and take enormous pride in the role we have played to bring this to fruition.”

Cuomo Cole noted, however, that across the country there are still nearly 50,000 veterans who are homeless and some 1.4 million at–risk of being homeless every day in the U.S. She stressed, “we cannot rest on our laurels. Challenges remain. So we have to continue to be diligent and vigilant each and every day if we hope to fully eradicate the problem. And we must; it is our moral responsibility as a nation to do so.”

She said that other cities can look to Las Vegas as an example of what can be done when public bodies, private enterprises and non-profit organizations come together and forge partnerships to solve a societal problem.

“Las Vegas is a city where the lights shine bright every night,” Cuomo Cole said. “Today, they shine brighter than ever. They are illuminating efficient and effective solutions to ending veteran homelessness for other cities and municipalities to follow.”