The Problem with Wake’s Homeless-Vets Program Is That Nobody Knows It Exists | Triangulator | Indy Week
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The Problem with Wake’s Homeless-Vets Program Is That Nobody Knows It Exists 

Homeless in Raleigh

File photo by Jeremy M. Lange

Homeless in Raleigh

Wake County already has a program in place to match homeless veterans with housing. The problem is no one knows about it.

Fresh off Memorial Day weekend, county commissioner Matt Calabria is working to raise awareness of a program he says could help end vet homelessness in Wake. The Wake County housing voucher program places homeless and disabled people—disproportionately veterans—into privately owned housing.

In return for their participation, the county guarantees these landlords that the rent will be paid on time and provides services to ensure stable housing placements. Under the program, tenants pay up to 30 percent of their incomes toward rent; the vouchers cover the rest. If a placement doesn't work out, the county pays up to three months' rent to allow landlords to find a new tenant or repair damage. All in all, it's a pretty good deal—and similar programs have worked in New Orleans and Philadelphia, which claim to have mostly eliminated chronic veteran homelessness.

"This is a great program for both landlords and tenants," Calabria said in a statement. "Tenants receive stable housing that helps them get back on their feet. Landlords get to do a great service for our community while maintaining high occupancy rates and taking on minimal risk."

The program is mostly funded with federal grants—it cost about $230,0000 over the last two years, the county says—and since 1993, it has housed more than two hundred disabled veterans. However, nearly fifty veterans in Wake are still living in shelters because too few landlords are currently participating.

"We have a strong effort in place," Calabria added. "When I heard the only thing stopping us was that too few landlords knew about the program, my first thought was to see what we could do to raise awareness. If more landlords decide to give some very deserving folks a chance at a better life, they can make a major impact."

Interested landlords should contact David Harris, Wake County's housing services program manager, at dharris@wakegov.com or (919) 212-8383.

triangulator@indyweek.com

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