Have you ever considered renting to a homeless veteran?


Have you ever considered renting to a homeless veteran?

By Sheila Millan, LCSW and HUD/VASH Social Worker

Not all that long ago, say prior to 2008, there weren’t any programs to speak of in the Jacksonville area that was specifically aimed at trying to house our nation’s homeless veterans. Veterans were on the streets fending for themselves and finding it difficult to navigate the system that we refer to as “public housing” or “subsidized housing”. A mere 14 years later, Jacksonville has a thriving HUD/VASH program with over 20 caring professionals, including Licensed Social Workers, Nurse Practitioners, RNs, LPNs, Occupational Therapists, Substance Abuse Therapists, Recreation Therapists, and Peer Support Staff, to help our veterans. These wrap-around services, as they are often called, can be the lifeline that a veteran needs in order to be successful in remaining housed for the long term. After all, keeping veterans housed for the long haul is one of the goals of the HUD/VASH program.

Having access to the wrap-around services provided by HUD/VASH is also what sets this program apart from the traditional Section 8 program. The support that is offered and required for veterans throughout the process can mean the difference between a veteran that successfully makes the transition from homelessness to being successfully housed and one that does not. Small successes can quickly multiply and help propel a veteran along toward the ultimate goal of becoming truly self-sufficient. For the landlord, all of this translates into more consistent rent payments coming in and the prospect of having a good long-term tenant in your unit. In addition, it gives the landlord another avenue of approach for resolving issues that may come up with a veteran. The social workers and other staff that work with the veteran are available to help resolve problems and have access to various community resources that may help to alleviate concerns. VASH stands for VA Supportive Housing and that’s what we do!

As you probably already know, the housing market in the Jacksonville and surrounding areas has gone a bit crazy in the last couple of years. Sadly, this situation has created a critical shortage of affordable housing for our veterans trying to use a Section 8 voucher. Currently, anywhere from 80 to 100 veterans with vouchers are actively searching for housing and having a very difficult time finding a safe place to live. On February 24, 2022, there will be a lunch and learn session held at the American Legion Post at 9459 Ft. Caroline Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225. The lunch and learn session will begin at noon and go for approximately one hour. Staff from the HUD/VASH program and from the Jacksonville Housing Authority will be on-site and available to answer questions from prospective landlords. RSVP is required in order to attend this event since space is limited. Please RSVP to Sheila Millan at (352) 226-9664 or by email at [email protected]. The goal of the informational session is to increase the availability of affordable housing for veterans by educating local landlords about the program and its benefits compared to traditional Section 8. Hopefully, understanding the program better and correcting any misinformation out there will encourage more landlords to be willing to work with our most vulnerable veterans. If you are a landlord, I hope you will consider attending the luncheon and consider making a positive difference in the life of a Veteran!