I can’t think of a more patriotic thing to do than to find a homeless veteran a home. I’ll be the first to say that despite all our successes — our economy is growing, unemployment is down — housing is expensive. In order to house our homeless veterans, we need the partnership and support of our landlords and property owners.
Thanks to a tremendous investment by the federal government, homeless veterans in San Francisco can qualify for HUD-VASH (Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers. These vouchers provide veterans with rental assistance and case management.
In March, HUD awarded San Francisco $2.7 million, including 200 vouchers for veterans. Vouchers provide veterans with rental assistance throughout The City through the San Francisco Housing Authority and help support the Veterans Commons housing project at 150 Otis St., a new permanent supportive housing site for chronically homeless senior veterans.
Before the new allocation of vouchers are used, there are 50 veterans with VASH vouchers from prior years’ allocations who have been unable to secure housing. Along with our public and private partners, we launched the San Francisco Homes for Heroes 100 Days Campaign in May to house 50 veterans in 100 days.
HUD-VASH vouchers are valuable, and it’s up to us to make sure this federal investment is put to good and immediate use. Unfortunately, in this tight rental market, many veterans are having a hard time finding an apartment. My administration has teamed up with the Housing Authority, HUD, the VA and Swords to Plowshares to launch the campaign to house 50 homeless veterans by Aug. 17.
Since we began our campaign, we’ve fast-tracked the process: Landlords are getting inspected within 48 hours, payments are more flexible than ever, and we’ve made the paperwork as easy and painless as possible.
The San Francisco Apartment Association, the Small Property Owners of San Francisco and the Chinese Real Estate Association have been actively encouraging their members to participate in the campaign. They understand this is about supporting individuals who have sacrificed to protect our country.
I call upon the landlords and property managers to join us in our effort. If you have an apartment you can rent to a veteran through this program, we need your help.
San Francisco is known for its big heart. Let’s show our veterans, who have made the ultimate sacrifices in fighting for our country, how big that heart is.
Please, join us in our effort to house our veterans! For more information, go to: SFHomesForHeroes.org.
Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco. The mayor’s column will run on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.