Several disabled veterans, who are now homeless, sued a group named Peaceful Haven for unlawfully evicting them from their homes. This seems to be part of a growing issue that has come as a byproduct of VA programs designed to help homeless veterans.
One of those disabled veterans, Clarence Smith-Bey, was told about Peaceful Haven by workers at a local Veterans Affairs Community Resource and Referral Center.
After moving into one of their properties, Smith-Bey soon found himself living without heat for three weeks during winter and later found himself unlawfully evicted with all his possessions tossed out on the street.
It turns out, he wasn't the only one with this type of experience.
Last year, the White House intensified its push to house all veterans, calling for $1.4 billion to pay for VA programs to help them. And like everything else the Department of Veterans Affairs seems to touch, these programs designed to help homeless veterans are actually harming them.
According to court records and interviews with legal experts, veterans and landlords familiar with the issue, funds are being provided to landlords who, in turn, have provided veterans with substandard housing and questionably evicted them back into homelessness.
The common link in this issue harming disabled veterans like those suing Peaceful Haven is an unvetted list of housing options the District’s Veterans Affairs Community Resource and Referral Center provides to veterans.
Amber Harding, a housing attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, said the resource center should scrutinize landlords to whom they refer homeless veterans. “There is a responsibility to make sure as close to 100 percent of these [sites] are safe and legitimate,” she said. “That’s basic good governance.”
Read the complete investigative piece on this emerging issue with the VA and our homeless veterans at the Washington Post.
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