AFFORDABLE VETERAN HOUSING SHOULD BE MUNICIPALITIES’ PRIORITY

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For the better part of the year this country has found innovative ways to gather safely and nearly everything we have previously done in-person is getting done virtually. Last week, Cloudbreak Communities held a virtual groundbreaking for Light Rail Lofts, an affordable housing community for 56 veterans in Houston Texas.

The project will take time to develop but is an important part of the housing pipeline for veterans facing housing instability, and for homeless service providers in the Houston community.

The lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges that service providers face as they work with veterans exhibiting homelessness.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reported that in 2018, the Greater Houston Area had only 19 units available for every 100 individuals at 30 percent or below the area’s median income of $15,750. Nationwide, there are approximately 36 units available for every 100 individuals at 30 percent of the area median income.

This forces extremely low income veterans into paying more rent than they can afford and making hard choices between housing and food or utilities or other essential needs.

While the lack of affordable housing is a contributing factor to veteran homelessness, neither this problem nor its solutions are unique to veterans.

There are many mechanisms communities use to develop affordable housing.

Two of the more common sources are the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Housing Trust Fund (HTF.) Other unique funding streams are profiled in NCHV’s podcast The Road Home, which can be found wherever you listen to podcasts.

Every community should have a pipeline of affordable housing in development. It is easier than you think to encourage community leaders to ensure that everyone can access affordable housing that is as of high a quality as is being developed at Light Rail Lofts.

One of the first steps is ensuring that veteran affordable housing projects are prioritized for funding distributed as your state reviews its LIHTC allocation plan. In 2020, Arizona and Pennsylvania were the only states in the nation to prioritize or set aside funding to develop veteran supportive housing.

State and local housing trust funds are another resource for affordable housing development and preservation.

Find out what type of trust funds are available in your area and work to ensure they have dedicated revenue streams that are near impossible to repurpose for other budgetary short falls.

Good citizenry demands that we hold elected officials accountable for meeting our most basic of needs.

In order to see continued declines in veteran homelessness, we must focus our collective efforts on securing the place of veterans in any response to remedy the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

Visit http://nchv.org/index.php/news/headline_article/QAP_ANALYSIS_2020/ to learn more about how to influence LIHTC allocations.

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