Current Housing Options for Homeless Veterans in Reno are Dwindling

While I am a huge proponent of all qualified home buyers taking the steps necessary to make home-ownership their reality, owning a house is not for everyone and not all buyers are qualified. 

The Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program provides rental assistance for homeless Veterans by providing them with a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV,) which is the terminology used to indicate payment being made to the beneficiary’s landlord by HUD.  To qualify for an HCV, the Veteran must receive case management and clinical services, provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA Medical Centers and community-based outreach clinics.

What I like most about the HUD-VASH program is they are guided by the idea that housing comes first.

What that means is when a qualified Veteran presents as homeless at a shelter, to law enforcement, at the VA Medical Center or elsewhere, the first priority is getting the Veteran a home and a case worker to get them back on track to self-sufficiency.  It is believed that self sufficiency is more likely to happen when an individual has a stable home.

HUD-VASH vouchers in Washoe County are administered by the Reno Housing Authority Vouchers are awarded to the Reno Housing Authority based on geographic need and the Authority’s administrative performance.  The data used to determine the number of vouchers delegated to an area are: HUD’s point-in-time data submitted by Continuums of Care (CoCs), VA Medical Center data on the number of contacts with homeless Veterans, and performance data from the Reno Housing Authority and VA Medical Center.  After determining the number of homeless Veterans, the VA Central Office identifies VA facilities in the corresponding communities.  HUD then invites the Reno Housing Authority to apply for the vouchers.  

As of today’s writing, there is an allocation of 330 HUD-VASH vouchers for Washoe County, administrated by the Reno Housing Authority, and another 100 vouchers for areas outside of Washoe County, which are managed by Nevada Rural Housing authority. The problem faced by the RHA is a shortage of landlords who are willing to participate in the program for a myriad of reasons.  With rents rising in Washoe County it is hard for HUD to stay competitive with their voucher rates. This market change has led some participating landlords to drop the program in favor of potentially higher rental income.  Additionally, the homeless Veteran population can be a difficult clientele to manage.  Mental health challenges can lead to an unfavorable reaction from landlords, and physical health challenges make convenient access to public transportation and health care vitally important to this population. 

Many of the properties that would be ideal locations to house Veterans in the Reno area have been bought by developers, only to be torn down or boarded up and used as a tax write off for investors.

The need for participating landlords is why I have made it a personal priority to provide units for the HUD-VASH program.  I am of the opinion that everyone deserves a dignified, safe, and comfortable place to call home.  If you would like to know more about this program, or our efforts to support the program, get in touch via my Contact Page any time.

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