Letter writer: City of Asheville works with partners to house veterans

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Through a partnership with Homeward Bound, the city of Asheville provides support to implement the federal Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant. Homeward Bound was awarded $2.7 million in federal funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) over the next three years.

SSVF is a rapid rehousing program that provides short-term rental assistance to veterans and their families who are literally homeless in Buncombe County. Homeward Bound will be placing a minimum of 108 households into permanent housing annually, working in collaboration with other community partners with the specific goal of ending homelessness among veterans who are unsheltered and veterans who are chronically homeless by January 2016.

In addition to case managers who work with veterans once housed to ensure they stay housed permanently, this SSVF team has an outreach specialist who connects homeless veterans with housing services and a housing specialist focused on recruiting landlords and property-management companies to partner in ending veteran homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County.

Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministries also operates a Supportive Services for Veteran Families program in Buncombe County. ABCCM’s program focuses largely on homelessness prevention and will help prevent homelessness for 84 households in this current operating year.

A variety of outreach strategies and tools to engage private landlords and private developers are being utilized by the collaborative partnership that includes the city of Asheville, the VA, Homeward Bound, ABCCM and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville.

The Asheville Housing Authority has been collaborating with the Charles George VA Medical Center since 2008 to implement the VA Supportive Housing (VASH) program. From 2008 through the end of 2014, those two agencies have housed more than 325 homeless veterans, most of whom met the definition of chronic homelessness. A chronic homeless person is one who has a disabling condition and has been homeless for more than one year, or has experienced four episodes of homelessness in the last three years.

The Asheville Housing Authority administers a rental subsidy to help the veterans rent on the private market, and the VA provides supportive services to help the veterans manage the transition to permanent housing. The success rate has been 87 percent.

Locally, the VASH program has grown from an initial allotment of 50 housing vouchers to 251 at the end of 2014. Just this month, the two agencies were awarded an additional 55 VASH vouchers. The challenge right now, because of the tight rental housing market — particularly for one-bedroom units — is to find vacant apartments to rent. Currently, about 30 veterans have vouchers in hand and are looking for housing, with assistance from the VA. Based on current projections, we can house an additional 90 veterans between now and the end of 2015, if apartments can be located for them.

Readers willing to help a veteran by offering a vacant apartment should contact the Homelessness Program at the Charles George VA Medical Center at 298-7911, ext. 1198. For more information, please contact Christiana Glenn Tugman in the city of Asheville Community Development Division [at] CTugman@ashevillenc.gov.

— Esther Manheimer
Mayor
Asheville

Editor’s note: This letter is a response to the question raised in John Penley‘s letter,  “What is the City Doing to End Veterans’ Homelessness?” in this issue.

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6 thoughts on “Letter writer: City of Asheville works with partners to house veterans

  1. Beverly Snyder

    ABCCM Considers women veterans special needs and do very little for them. 10 beds give me a break. Someone else was told that we don’t have homeless female veterans here. So, who’s lies. Veterans and and non veterans need not be housed together just like the males. Veterans have different needs than non veterans. Non veterans , just don’t understand.

  2. John Penley

    The main problem and I know personally about it is the lack of and the availability of affordable housing plus the fact that HUD-VASH does not allow two Veterans to go in together as roommates. I believe that if the Mayor and her people put their heads together possibly with Warren Haynes and others the money could be gotten to build an apartment building or even set up a trailer park with trailers for Vets. Other cities have been able to do this and perhaps their programs should be looked at. Thanks to Mountain XPress for doing this and thanks to Mayor Manheimer for her reply. I hope she reads this and considers my suggestion. John Penley

  3. John Penley

    I have read this letter a couple of times and I am not sure I see anything that was going on new since you accepted the challenge that was not going on before other than more HUD-VASH vouchers which are actualy worthless if you cannot find a place to rent for the amount of money the voucher allows. How about thinking about my suggestion above and if other cities can build housing for Veterans why not Asheville ? Even the tiny houses that are all the rage now are better than the street.

  4. John Penley

    On a releated issue..recently there has been a push by Republican politicians for big cuts to the VA health care system and some have even floated the idea of completely ending Veterans Health Care benefits. People , especially Veterans, should be paying close attention to this. The Republican Party and their Tea Party people always claim they are the most Patriotic and Support the troops more than the Democratic Party,, Don’t believe it.

  5. jonathan wainscott

    I am currently housing two homeless veterans through the Homeward Bound program. They tried to get housing at the Veterans Helping Veteran farm recently covered by this paper. That “organization” run by Timothy Sadler and Matt Sheply kicked out an 82 year old veteran, they (Timmy and Lil Matt) eat their own donations of food from whole foods and let much of it go to rot. I know. I have been out to “The Farm”. I have no problem with the amount of marijuana smoked on the farm though. They smoke some seriously kind bud. Really.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgTxuMZHXnI

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