"Housing Our Heroes" to provide housing to 1,000 veterans - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

"Housing Our Heroes" to provide housing to 1,000 veterans

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(Photo Credit: Todd Gloria Facebook Page) (Photo Credit: Todd Gloria Facebook Page)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A $12.5 million program to provide housing for homeless military veterans in San Diego was launched Wednesday by the San Diego Housing Commission.

The "Housing Our Heroes" campaign seeks to find a place to live for 1,000 homeless former members of the armed forces over the next year. It was first announced last month by Mayor Kevin Faulconer in his "State of the City" speech.

"We have an opportunity -- and an obligation -- to dedicate ourselves to the men and women who dedicated their lives to our country," Faulconer said.

"We're going to work with landlords to open doors to more homes, cover security deposits so veterans can move into those homes, provide hundreds of housing vouchers so disabled veterans can afford rent for their homes, and offer supportive services so veterans can stay in their homes -- and not end up back on the street," he said.

Faulconer said he will commit $4 million to the program, pending City Council approval.

The program will provide incentives to landlords who rent to homeless veterans, assist with security deposits and utility bills, create a contingency fund to help landlords cover expenses like move-out repairs, provide 300 federal rental assistance vouchers, and make mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, job training skills and health services available -- among other things.

"The funds are here. We've identified them. Certainly we know that the need is here," Housing Commission President and CEO Richard Gentry said. "But the success of this collaborative initiative lies with landlord partnerships, as well as homeless veterans taking advantage of those housing opportunities."

The program follows the commission's "Housing First" model, which seeks to get the homeless a roof over their heads quickly and provide them with the services they need to keep them off the streets.

"Veteran homelessness is a solvable challenge, and the plan to house 1,000 veterans will make a significant impact toward this regional goal," Councilman Todd Gloria said. "A collaborative approach between the city, the county, property owners and service providers is the key to our success."

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the California Apartment Association and the San Diego County Apartment Association are joining in the effort to provide outreach to landlords.

The local apartment association estimates the area's vacancy rate to be 2.8 percent, which is considered low -- making it more difficult for veterans to find housing.

Last year's count of the region's homeless found that 15.4 percent had once served in the military, out of a total of more than 8,700 people living on the streets or in shelters.

Landlords seeking information about program can call (619) 578-7768 or email HousingOurHeroessdhc.org.

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