San Diego's population growth increases by approximately 33,000 annually and exceeds its available housing with an estimate of 12,000 new units needed to meet the housing demand. For veterans experiencing homelessness, the lack of affordable units means they must postpone or abandon the goal of permanent housing. The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) indicated the largest number of veterans experiencing homelessness was 12,096. In January 2014, the City and County of San Diego reported that approximately 1,307 veterans experience homelessness in a single night.
The Veterans Community Services is a program designed to place veterans and their families into permanent housing. The program offers assistance with accessing Veteran Administration and other public benefits through supportive services and referrals as well as temporary financial assistance. The program also assists participants with identifying the best housing options to meet their needs.
Most of the veteran families in the program have a stable source of income. Some veteran families require temporary financial assistance. Veterans Community Services evaluates each veteran family for rental assistance eligibility and provides payment directly to the landlord. Their policy is to ensure that all veteran families requesting rental assistance demonstrate financial sustainability by the time the program’s assistance ends.
Finding solutions to the challenges facing local veterans is Veterans Community Services number one priority. However, they need the community of San Diego to assist with giving our veterans and their families a safe place to call home.
Veterans Community Services staff have conducted regular outreach at local shelters, VA Hospital, community clinics and programs such as Wounded Warrior to engage veterans that could utilize supportive services. Their program has had great successes over the past four years as the first Veterans Affairs funded supportive services program of its kind in San Diego. They support other newer grantees in the area by providing mentoring services to foster collaboration.
The program’s success stories include a recent veteran participant that was assisted with filing for VA benefits. The veteran was awarded 100% service connected disability. Without the advocacy and supportive services of Veterans Community Services, this veteran may have remained on the streets. Another Vietnam veteran thanked the program for not giving up on him. They recently placed him into a remodeled apartment for the first time in six years and he is motivating others on the streets to also seek support.
“Veterans Community Services has consistently assisted both their veteran clients and the housing community managers throughout the housing process with exemplary professional conduct,” said a local landlord. “It has been a pleasure partnering with Veterans Community Services and providing deserving veterans a place to call home.”
With the help of the community spreading the word to landlords that might be willing to help “House Our Heroes,” Veterans Community Services aims to help as many veterans as possible by Thanksgiving. For more information, interested landlords can contact the program directly.
Pictured above: Maleka Parker, Program Manager at Veterans Community Services