Independence Day is not a military holiday like Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. Still, we honor veterans on America’s birthday (July 4th) since veterans devote their lives to defending our nation’s founding principles: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Therefore, let’s take a closer look at U.S. veteran housing efforts, local housing support for veterans, and how to help fight veteran homelessness in the Carolinas.
National Veteran Housing Efforts
In the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development–VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) was established to help veterans who have been homeless and need support to maintain housing. Currently, HUD-VASH is the largest permanent supportive housing program in the country.
HUD-VASH provides Housing Choice vouchers to veterans. These vouchers, formerly called Section 8 vouchers, are permanent vouchers used to pursue private-market rental apartments, otherwise known as “scattered-site apartments.” With a Housing Choice voucher, veterans use one third of their income to pay their rent. The government takes care of the rest.
Dr. Ann Montgomery of VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans states: “There are now probably around 90,000 to 95,000 HUD-VASH vouchers funded throughout the country, among many more general Housing Choice vouchers that HUD provides.”
So HUD-VASH and other programs like it are effective. For instance, studies show that about 85% of people who move into these permanent supportive programs are able to maintain their housing for a year or more.
Due to HUD-VASH efforts, national support, and community dedication, we’ve made great strides toward ending veteran homelessness. Since 2009, the rate of veteran homelessness has been nearly sliced in half. With an overall decrease of 50 percent. Three states and 57 communities have virtually ended veteran homelessness within their borders.
But what about a little closer to home? What efforts have been made locally to end homelessness for our veteran neighbors and friends?
Local Veteran Housing Efforts
WalletHub ranked Raleigh as the fourth best U.S. city for veterans to live in. Their 2018 report compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 17 metrics, including: share of military skill-related jobs, affordable housing, veteran unemployment rate, veteran income growth, and number of veterans in poverty.
We are so proud of the City of Oaks for earning this accolade! However, there is still work to do if we want to completely eradicate veteran homelessness in our region.
The good news is that it can be done. For example, two North Carolina communities—Cumberland County/Fayetteville and Winston-Salem—decreased the veteran homeless population so drastically that in 2018, they were able to declare an end to veteran homelessness in their areas.
Community Alternatives for Supportive Abodes (CASA), a nonprofit that “strives to develop affordable housing and opportunities for successful living,” is working hard to help Raleigh and Chapel Hill achieve the same, important milestone.
“More than 20% of all CASA apartments are occupied by veteran households. These men and women volunteered to be there for us, and now it is our turn to be there for them,” says Mary Jean Seyda, CASA’s CEO.
Join the Fight Against Veteran Homelessness
CASA suggests 4 Ways to Help Homeless Veterans in the Triangle on their website. You can find the breakdown below:
1. Join Volunteers of America of the Carolinas
Volunteers of America of the Carolinas supports veterans who are homeless by providing them with transitional housing and case management services. Volunteers of all kinds are welcome.
2. Support Local Emergency Shelters
It’s important to support local emergency shelters who provide immediate relief from the streets for homeless veterans. Shelters are often in need of financial donations, household items, and volunteers. The Salvation Army in particular offers shelter, rehabilitation, and other services for veterans across the Triangle.
3. Contribute or Volunteer at Veteran’s Stand Down Events
Modeled after the “Stand Down” concept in the Vietnam War, Veterans’ Stand Down events provide a safe space for homeless veterans to shower, change into clean clothing, enjoy a hearty meal, receive medical care, legal and mental health assistance, and more. The latest Stand Down event in Raleigh was last November.
4. Support CASA’s Affordable Veteran Housing Initiatives
Whether you’re looking to donate your time or money, CASA appreciates the help with fighting veteran homelessness in the area. You can help them maintain affordable housing options by volunteering on their properties.
Contact CASA today to volunteer and help build more veteran housing.
The Bottom Line
Veteran housing efforts are improving in America. Several communities across the nation have ended veteran homelessness entirely. Certainly, the Triangle area is becoming one such region. With the help of community leaders and residents, Raleigh will suitably house all of its heroes.
Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless can call or visit their local VA Medical Center or Community Resource and Referral Center. Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.
Thank you for reading. Please subscribe, and feel free to send us your questions or suggestions! What topics would you like to see more of? Let us know.
Have a great 4th of July!