In 2015, fully thirteen percent of homeless American adults had previously served in the military. Given military Veterans only make up seven percent of our population; this number was way out of proportion with the rest of society. To counter this, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) developed the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH). Through it, landlords can help fight homelessness among Veterans.
HUD-VASH provides eligible low-income Veterans with Section 8 vouchers, case management and other supportive services from the Veterans Administration. The vouchers are used to subsidize rent payments for these individuals. While the program was partially responsible for a 17 percent decline in Veteran’s homelessness between 2015 and 2016, there is still work to be done in this area.
In addition to providing landlords with a relatively risk-free method of honoring the service of our military, HUD-VASH guarantees rental income for landlords. Case managers help Vets manage any social difficulties they may encounter. Among other things, this serves to mitigate default risks landlords may assume by participating in the program.
To apply, contact your local public housing authority office. When you do, a HUD Quality Housing Standards inspection will be performed to make sure your property meets the standards required by the program.
Inspections ensure units are equipped with the following:
- Working smoke alarm(s)
- Proper ventilation in bathrooms (window or fan)
- Connected utilities
- A functional stove and refrigerator
- A window in every bedroom capable of staying open without props
- A working water heater discharge line and pop/relief valves
- Handrails for steps
- Secure railings for porches and balconies
Disqualifying elements include:
- Broken or missing locks
- Broken or missing windows
- Bugs or vermin
- Tripping hazards on the floor
- Exposed electrical wiring
- Chipping or peeling paint inside or outside
Once your property passes inspection, you can advertise it as accepting HUD-VASH vouchers. You can also list it with the VA homeless coordinator in your area. When Vets apply, you’ll screen them just as you would any other tenant—taking care to stay within the guidelines of the Fair Housing Act. When you find a potential Veteran tenant, run their rental application by the Housing Authority to confirm they qualify for HUD-VASH assistance. Once approval is received, the tenant can sign the lease and move in.
To remain eligible for the program, properties must be inspected annually to be recertified. Rents will be compared to those set for comparable homes in the area and must be considered reasonable. Leases typically run 12 months and require the landlord’s approval to be broken.
Through HUD-VASH, landlords can help fight homelessness among Veterans with minimal risk. Rents are guaranteed and the local VA homeless coordinator acts as an agent for your property, referring qualifying Veterans. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to eradicate homelessness among those who have risked their lives in the service of our nation.
Recently, Poplar Homes took a stance on homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area and donated care packages to a homeless shelter in need.