First Lady Michelle Obama released a video this week to landlords encouraging them to help communities across the country end Veteran homelessness.
“You all have the power to open doors for Vets, and give them the stability they deserve, and help our country solve an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long,” the first lady says.
The message asks landlords to make units available to Veterans with federal rental assistance who haven’t yet been able find a home.
“We’ve made historic investments to get housing vouchers into the hands of Veterans and treat them with the dignity they deserve,” says HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “But there are a number of communities where housing is too scarce or unaffordable that having a voucher just isn’t enough. In those cases, we need landlords to be part of the solution by stepping up and accepting those vouchers.”
In choosing to rent to Veterans exiting homelessness, landlords get a stable source of rent and the peace of mind that Veterans receive ongoing supportive services from local VA staff or community organizations to help them through unexpected crises.
“In order to build on our progress making sure that those who have served our nation have a place they can call home, we need the increased support of landlords and property managers,” says VA Secretary Bob McDonald. “We know that when given the opportunity, Veterans have the skills and abilities to make excellent tenants.”
Affordable housing is a concern across the country, one that can begin to be addressed by strong partnerships between landlords and a community’s housing crisis response system.
“Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices our service members have made for us, and what we owe them for that sacrifice,” says Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The partnerships we are building with landlords today will help us honor our commitment to Veterans and all people experiencing homelessness more quickly and effectively.”
In June of 2014, Mrs. Obama called on mayors and other elected officials across the country to join the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. A total of 854 officials from 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have signed up for that challenge, including nine governors.
“Just like it is our country’s duty to bring back all of our men and women from the battlefield, we’ve also got a duty to make sure that every single Veteran has a place to call home when they get here, and for the rest of their lives,” Mrs. Obama said, at the launch of the challenge.
This article originally appeared on the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness blog.