The push to end veteran homelessness continues across the United States. As we close out 2015, local and national organizations are coming together in an effort to help those who laid their lives on the line for our nation, but have since fallen on hard times.
While it is true that homelessness among military veterans has improved nationwide, the number of homeless veterans continues to rise in 17 states. In Washington, D.C., 1 in every 50 veterans is homeless and the overall rate of homeless military veterans has increased 13 percent.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, almost 50 thousand veterans in the U.S. are homeless.
We've heard the promises of our lawmakers in Washington to end the problem of veteran homelessness. In 2010, the White House made a promise to dedicate all its resources to end homelessness among veterans in five years.
President Obama championed the cause and spoke about the "fight to end homelessness among our veterans" on multiple occasions.
"We are going to remain relentless ... in our fight to end homelessness among our veterans. We have to have zero tolerance for homelessness among our veterans.” -- President Barack Obama (January 24, 2011).
The promises out of Washington to help our homeless veterans, much like the promises to fix the issues at the VA, have not been fulfilled.
Where we do see success in ending veteran homelessness, it is the private sector - and not the government - solving the problem. And now, governement leaders are pushing for private citizens - landlords - to help our military veterans who are homeless and on the street.
Leaders on the local and national level are working with the federal government and homeless organizations like Zero: 2016 to highlight the fact that landlords and property managers play a critical role in helping end veteran homelessness by making their units available to veterans.
Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama released a plea calling on landlords and property owners around the U.S. to consider opening up units to homeless veterans.
Through the The HUD - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, eligible low-income Veterans receive a Section 8 rental voucher plus case management and supportive services from the VA.
"You all have the power to open doors for our vets and give them the stability they deserve and help our country solve an issue swept under the rug for far too long," said Mrs. Obama. "This isn't just the patriotic thing to do, it can also be the smart thing to do for your business. Through federal efforts, like HUD Vash Vouchers or the Supportive Service for Veteran Families program, you are guaranteed regular rent payments and staff support along the way."
Benefits for landlords who open their doors to homeless vets include:
Guaranteed income from the local housing authority
A say in security deposits
Annual property recertification
The benefit of VA services that lower default risks
A chance to honor those who have served their country
To learn more about the HUD-VASH program, click here.
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