Implementing Housing Vouchers for Veterans
By Pete Walker
Norris Fletcher served in the Air Force for years before he was medically discharged. After he left, he had three heart attacks in a six-year period, leaving him with medical expenses and medication costs he couldn’t recover financially from. He became homeless for two years.
“I used to walk around Walmart all night, or sometimes I would ride the train or walk around the Atlanta Airport all night. I would sleep anywhere I could in the daytime,” he describes. “Life really had started to have no meaning. I was starting to give up.”
So many veterans experience these types of issues once they return home from duty. Who will help? How will they help? As a society, there are many ways we can respond, but there is always a question of available resources.
“My family tried to help me the best they could but they only could do so much,” Fletcher recalls. “I had so many health issues that it was very hard. Now things are better. I heard about VASH [the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program] from some other veterans. I was surprised when the VA called me. They told me the rules and helped get me situated in my new apartment. I was so happy. I still am very happy! They helped me get my proper medication and get myself back on track. It’s been a real blessing.”
A joint program between the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VASH program allows eligible homeless veterans and their families to receive Section 8 vouchers to find housing.
The Housing Authority of DeKalb County (HADC) has the largest HUD-VASH program in the state of Georgia. Our Section 8 voucher program has designated 644 vouchers for eligible veterans experiencing chronic homelessness. To help us contribute to the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, HUD increased our allocation by 29 VASH vouchers effective October 1, 2014, and has also invited us to apply for 29 more vouchers, which we will do.
Though some Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs struggle to place families...