A barrier to the Obama administration’s goal of ending veterans homelessness in 2015 is that “many landlords remain reluctant to rent to homeless individuals.”
Almost 6,200 homeless veterans have federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers in hand like Joseph Coles in Washington DC have vouchers in hand but can’t find affordable apartments.
“So Coles, who’s been searching since September, has yet to find a place. He’s in temporary transitional housing now but doesn’t know what he’ll do if an apartment doesn’t come through soon. ‘I shudder to think about that,’ he says.”
VASH vouchers are especially difficult to use in tight rental markets in big cities. In Miami for example, VASH vouchers provide a $900/month payment but that is often just not enough to find an affordable rent.
Homeless veterans with VASH vouchers can make wonderful tenants despite having to overcome the stereotypes of those who have often lived on the streets. They are screened, receive the support services they need to live independently and successfully in their own apartments, and the voucher portion of their rental payment is guaranteed.
Still, communities such as Miami-Dade County and the State of Minnesota have had to use creativity and incentives to engage landlords in renting to homeless veterans just to agree to renting to homeless veterans on a “trial basis.” Navigators and homeless providers need landlords willing to participate. And Washington, DC is also having trouble placing thousands of homeless families and individuals in private apartments.