December 10, 2015

Mayor adds landlords to effort to house homeless vets

Wednesday morning, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild convened Tucson-area landlords and property managers to ask for their help in ending veteran homelessness, urging them to make more properties available to veterans.

Attendees in the packed conference room at City Hall learned about the city’s Section 8 program as well as the VA’s VASH program, which combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management by the VA. Both programs pay landlords a fair market rent, with the tenant paying a percentage of his or her income and federally-supported vouchers making up the rest. The city’s housing department runs weekly classes for landlords and property managers interested in participating. (Contact Housing and Community Development at 791-4171 for information.)

Property manager Renee Banuelos of Nottinghill Apartments gave an especially passionate appeal, speaking of her experiences with the VASH program and how treating veterans with respect and dignity, including them in community events, and contacting their case manager right away if problems develop, results in transformation and success.

Mayor Rothschild accepted President Obama’s challenge and launched his initiative to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year in June 2013. As of October 31, 2015, the city and its program partners have housed 1,399 formerly homeless veterans, leaving 251 to go to meet their goal of “functional zero.” This is the point at which the backlog of homeless veterans has been housed and the community is now able to keep up with ongoing demand, estimated at 40 to 42 veterans a month.

Other speakers at the event included representatives from the VA, Project Action for Veterans, the National League of Cities, the American Red Cross, and the city’s housing department. Wells Fargo generously sponsored the breakfast.

How to help

Landlords and property managers with available rental properties can contact program partners:

  • VA of Southern Arizona D. Jodi Frederick, LCSW (520) 792-1450 ext. 1-6586
  • Project Action for Veterans (520) 308-3093
  • Old Pueblo Community Services (520) 546-0122
  • American Red Cross, Southern Arizona Chapter (520) 318-6740