Members of the financial community have partnered with veterans advocacy groups to address the complex issues surrounding permanent housing for homeless and wounded veterans.
Especially for the long-term, chronically homeless veteran population, solutions that provide homes must also provide multi-factorial support, such as access to Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) for help in navigating the VA and Social Security systems and access to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, such as the VA’s SOAR program. Supportive partnerships between the VA, NGOs, community organizations, and financial institutions are critical to success.
Statistics vary and are complex to gather, but data from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans suggest that around 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in America. 9% of those vets are women. Other sources have this number as high as 100,000.
Wounded veterans face different challenges. The VA system is quite unwieldy, and in populous areas it is overwhelmed. While resources exist for disability and adaptive housing grants, access to these programs presents a number of barriers that for some prove to be insurmountable.
Bank and community partnerships have begun programs both large and small to address these two populations needing support and assistance.
Operation Homefront provides an easy to access system that offers food assistance, home repair and adaptive building, multiple programs for families, and two home assistance programs: Homes on the Homefront helps military vets buy donated, previously foreclosed homes. These homes are donated as part of nationwide foreclosed homes donation programs from Wells-Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase. The system to access the application process is easy to use and inclusive.
Operation Homefront Villages offers rent-free transitional housing for veterans wounded while on active duty and transitioning out of the military. The time between having to leave base housing and losing military pay and accessing VA benefits puts many military families at risk of homelessness.
Bank of America donated foreclosed properties, and has made a new three-year commitment to make available over two thousand properties to nonprofits and local government programs. These service organizations will provide housing and supportive services for injured military veterans and first responders.
Wells-Fargo has donated nearly $500,000 in bank-owned properties to help house military families. In 2011 the Wells-Fargo Housing Foundation programs delivered 697 discounted and 1245 donated properties to support affordable local housing and community revitalization programs. Their VeteranWINS program is a grant program that combines grants with counseling, education, and support.
Small local partnership programs have also been successful in providing housing solutions to homeless vets. The Cuyahoga Land Bank, in northeastern Ohio, partnered with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry to provide permanent, affordable housing to homeless vets in their community.