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Stepping Up Efforts to Address Veterans Homelessness
As part of a community-wide effort, Home Forward has increased its support for veterans experiencing homelessness. The partners in the effort, which include the cities of Portland and Gresham, Multnomah County, the Veterans Administration, and a host of social service agencies, have a goal of finding homes for 500 vets by the end of 2015.
The goal mirrors similar efforts in cities across the country facing the same challenge.
There’s an abundance of resources to help make this happen. In addition to the 525 federal VASH rent assistance vouchers Home Forward has received over the past five years, the City of Portland and Multnomah County have committed flexible funding that provides for a range of services and supports that the VASH program doesn’t fund.
Unfortunately, the effort is short on homes themselves. In the Portland metro area's blistering rental market, apartments are snapped up before vets have a chance to apply for them.
To help, Home Forward will offer 50 apartments for veterans experiencing homelessness as vacancies occur in its portfolio over the next six months. "We've already provided homes for vets at many of our communities. This pledge makes it more intentional and increases the supply available," said Michael Buonocore, executive director, "We're hoping other landlords, large and small, will join us in securing homes for the men and women who have given us so much."
In addition to VASH rent assistance vouchers it administers, Home Forward recently created a preference in its Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program for up to 50 vouchers for vets experiencing homelessness who don't qualify for veterans healthcare. At the same time, the agency created a voucher preference for up to 200 families referred through Multnomah County's Homeless Family System of Care.
“We are dedicating these 250 vouchers to the larger effort in our community to address homelessness. Working together, we are confident we have the will and can find the resources to solve the problem for a great many of our neighbors who don't have a home,” Buonocore said.
June 8, 2015