, DE — In response to the ongoing affordable housing crisis, the Wilmington VA Medical Center (WVAMC) encourages local landlords to partner with one of its homeless Veterans programs, Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Administration Supportive Housing Program “HUD-VASH” — which provides rental subsidies and landlord support for approximately 288 Veterans and their families in New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware, as well as Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties in New Jersey.
The program is currently facing challenges due to increases in rent and growth in inflation rates and emboldens landlords to consider opening their homes up to a Veteran family.
We are experiencing historically high housing costs nation-wide. Over the past 12 months, rent prices have risen by an unprecedented 15.3 percent nationally. This has been a challenge in housing Veterans experiencing homelessness.
Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and HUD-VASH estimates1 that 40,056 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans.
“We need the help of Delaware and Southern NJ’s housing providers and landlords to assist Veterans experiencing the hardships of this housing crisis. Together, we can aid our nation’s heroes in obtaining an affordable and safe place to call home,” said Cecilia Gonzalez, Homeless Programs Supervisor. “The goal of the program is to build mutually beneficial partnerships with local landlords. Our program provides assurance to landlords regarding rent payments, tenancy supports and case management that seeks to ensure leases and property expectations are maintained. We can partner to rapidly fill empty or vacated units as well as support new tenants both financially and with supportive services. We also can provide financial incentives to owners of housing willing to work with our team.”
To support, revitalize and streamline VA’s commitment to end Veteran homelessness and ensure at-risk Veterans are protected from this housing crisis, VA has established a nationwide goal to house 38,000 homeless Veterans2 during calendar year 2022.
The WVAMC leadership team has advocated for Veterans in local communities and worked diligently to connect homeless Veterans with housing insecurities over the years. There have been 1217 Homeless Veterans housed in Delaware alone since January 2015.
VA and community partnerships are essential to both preventing and ending homelessness among Veterans, the men and women who have served to protect our communities.
“Our top goal is putting Veterans first. Housing is a key factor in health care. If Veterans do not have to worry about finding a safe place to sleep, they can focus on taking care of themselves”, said Director Vince Kane. “I believe working with landlords in Delaware and southern New Jersey will have a substantial impact on the number of Veterans who identify as homeless in our communities and improve their health care simultaneously. We need to continue to advocate and connect Veterans to the VA so we can assist in navigating the process of finding a safe home while we provide essential healthcare to help sustain housing.”
Delaware and southern New Jersey property owners interested in helping Veterans can reach out to Karen Zogheib, HUD VASH Housing Specialist (New Castle County DE) at 302-650-9174, Debra Haley HUD-VASH Case Manager (Southern DE) at 302-824-9118 and/or Angie Ohagan HUD-VASH (Southern NJ) Case Manager at 302-463-9671.
Community members can encourage all to attend the 2022 Veterans’ Stand Down on Friday, September 23, 2022, from 8:30am – 2:00pm at Schutte Park, 10 Electric Avenue, Dover, DE 19904. Resources will be available for All Veterans to include housing, medical, fly shots, behavioral health, VA eligibility and benefits. For more information and upcoming VA events, visit https://www.va.gov/wilmington-health-care/ .