Crisis Ministries received a $1 million federal grant to help needy veterans pay for utilities, rent and other basic needs in a national effort to counter homelessness, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced today.

Crisis Ministries, which also received a $1 million grant through the “Supportive Services for Veteran Families” program last year, was one of two South Carolina nonprofit groups to get funding. The other, Alston Wilkes Society of Columbia, received about $740,000, the VA said.

Crisis Ministries, the largest shelter in the Charleston area, expects more than 200 veterans to benefit from the funds, grants manager Amy Zeigler said. The shelter can accommodate 14 men and 10 women in its veterans-only dormitory sections.

The program’s goal is to help low-income veterans and their families stay in permanent housing by providing them with temporary financial help such as covering moving costs and security deposits, Zeigler said.

Selena Wilson, Crisis Ministries’ chief program officer, recalled a middle-age veteran who benefited from last year’s funding after spending most of the past decade on the streets.

The shelter’s case managers helped the man get Social Security benefits, VA treatment for his mental and physical illnesses and a new apartment, Wilson said. The grant will cover rent for about half a year, she said.

Nationally, 151 community agencies received grants through the federal program, which is in its second year. Last year, $60 million was distributed. The VA did not announce the total figure for this year.

In 2009, President Obama and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the federal government’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.

“These grants will help VA and community organizations reach out and prevent at-risk Veterans from losing their homes,” Shinseki said in a statement.

Reach Renee Dudley at 937-5550 or on Twitter @renee_dudley.