This is my reply to Mayor [Esther] Manheimer’s, Homeward Bound’s and Alan Ditmore’s letters that were published in the Mountain Xpress about ending veterans’ homelessness in Asheville [“City of Asheville Works with Partners to House Veterans,” April 29; “Homeward Bound Works to End Veteran Homelessness,” May 6; and “Asheville’s Restrictions Help Cause Homelessness,” May 6, respectively].
I agree with Alan Ditmore’s statement that the mayor did not completely answer my question, and really, there is no way, because of the lack of affordable housing in Asheville, that she can live up to the challenge by [first lady] Michelle Obama that she accepted.
I am a veteran and at one time got a HUD-VASH voucher but was unable to find affordable housing with it. This is why I have been repeatedly saying that if the city of Asheville really wants to fulfill the mayor’s promise to Michelle Obama to end veterans homelessness, it is going to have to figure out a way to fund and build a veterans apartment building or create some affordable housing for veterans another way.
Right now, Homeward Bound has a letter both in Mountain Xpress and the Asheville Citizen-Times pleading with landlords to come forward with apartments for veterans with HUD-VASH vouchers, and I predict that very few will because many don’t want to accept the vouchers, don’t want veterans in the program in their apartments and can get more money from renters who will pay more than the HUD-VASH vouchers do.
— John Penley
U.S. Navy, 1972-76