Finding and obtaining a permanent place of residency can be quite frustrating for military veterans who are experiencing homelessness, but on May 23, the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) held a housing fair to help facilitate the process.
One hundred and fifty new housing vouchers were given out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the DCHA for the purpose of housing veterans in the Washington, D.C., area.
About 80 of the veterans who received these vouchers attended the housing fair. These vouchers are part of HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which recently provided $72.6 million to housing agencies across the United States with the goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans. The one-year budget authority for vouchers awarded to the DCHA totaled $1.5 million.
Veterans who participate in the HUD-VASH program receive a housing voucher through HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV). About 30 percent of the veteran’s income goes towards housing costs while the voucher subsidizes the remaining amount. The local public housing authority, in this case the DCHA, inspects the housing unit according to the standards in place by HUD and makes sure that the rent is fair market price. For the housing fair, the DCHA inspected the housing prior to the event so that the units were ready to be showcased.
According to Dena Michaelson, the director of public affairs for the DCHA, participants of housing voucher programs usually receive an orientation and then are handed a voucher with the understanding that they will find housing on their own. The housing fair provided an opportunity for landlords to show pictures and share information about the housing choices available and give site visits to those attending. This allowed the veterans the choice of signing a lease then and there, which enabled them to begin living in their new housing arrangements that night. However many chose to move into their apartments, townhomes or houses closer to Memorial Day.