”Veterans Matter housed my 80 year old Veteran and his little dog ‘Mikey’. This Veteran showed up to lease signing in a suit and tie. He melted the heart of his new landlord. Previously he was living in his van with the dog. Good work Veterans Matter, you came through for this veteran BIG TIME! He loves the new apartment and stated ‘I hope I can stay here forever.’” – VASH Social Worker
Each veteran’s story is different. All of this is hard work, and each social worker becomes an expert in identifying and then overcoming any and every barrier to domestic autonomy.
“I found a veteran, literally living on the streets, with his very small dog and a bicycle. We were able to talk to him about the HUD-VASH program and then get him a housing voucher. We found a place where the utilities are included in the rent. I was able to also apply for a “Hardship Waiver”, for the veteran which he was granted. Usually the vets have to pay some portion of their rent each month. The waiver exempts them from even the $50.00 a month minimum, charged by the local housing authorities. This veteran had not worked in years and had no source of income of any kind. It is hard to imagine how he had been living in the streets and eating what meals he could from local churches and missions for over five years. Veteran was grateful to the point of tears, to be warm, in his own apartment, both for himself and for his small companion. Again, without Veterans Matter it would have taken much longer to house this veteran. But now he is warm and for the first winter in five years, he will not have to brave the cold of trying to survive living outside. Since he moved into his new apartment the VA has helped him to find second hand furniture, pots and pans, dishes and cleaning supplies and many other necessary household items. It is heartwarming to visit veteran and see how happy he is to be off of the streets and maybe, most of all, to have a place to call home.” – VASH Social Worker
I was with a veteran who had been homeless for three years. We signed his lease with the landlord and he asked me to drop him off at the library where he checks his email. About 10 minutes after dropping him off he called me in tears and said “you know as I was walking into the library I realized I have my own apartment and a key in my pocket. I know where I will sleep tonight. It seems like the stress of years of homelessness has been lifted off my shoulders. Thank you for helping me”. Well Ken, that sentiment goes to the good people at Veterans Matters as well. Later he gave me a decoration to hang in my office. It has a house shape with a heart on it and says, HOME is a starting place for LOVE and DREAMS. Sort of glad I am the only person in the office right now so others don’t see the tears rolling down my face while I write this. The other thing about housing homeless veterans is that so many of them tell me that it takes a long time for them to believe that they are housed. Like a homeless PTSD.” – VASH Social Worker