It’s likely that fewer veterans are sleeping on the streets or in vehicles in the District than earlier this week.
On Wednesday, the D.C. Housing Authority successfully matched 80 homeless veterans and their families with permanent housing, boosting the number of veterans who receive free or subsidized housing vouchers in the District to 744.
Using part of a $1.5 million grant from the federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, the agency held a daylong housing fair where eligible veterans were placed with pre-screened landlords.
As in other District housing programs, qualified recipients receive a voucher that averages $15,000 annually to use secure an apartment. Recipients are expected to match the voucher with 30 percent of their incomes.
“They receive a voucher, with a voucher they can go anywhere they want and rent an apartment,” said Dena Michaelson, a spokeswoman at the Housing Authority. “Many of these folks, since they have had issues, and have been homeless, their income is zero, so it’s totally subsidized.”
Michaelson said the vast majority of the veterans helped Wednesday served in either the first or second Gulf wars. Some were single adults, but others had children. They will be moving into apartments in all eight wards of the city. By matching up qualified recipients with landlords, on site, Michaelson said the city was able to expedite their apartment search.
“Some [landlords] handed out keys yesterday,” Michaelson said.
The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program is a partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs. But states and the District distribute the grant money.
Only veterans who qualify through Veterans Affairs are eligible for the vouchers. Michaelson said the District still has funds to place an additional 70 homeless veterans.
According to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which conducts an annual census of the homeless population, 6,954 individuals in the District do not have shelter, about 1 percent of the population.