GUEST POST

Housing Stability for Veterans


April 7, 2020

From Liz Wilson, UWCA Director of Grants Management

Over the past nine months, funding from the Housing Affordability Trust has allowed sixteen military veterans and their six dependents to secure or remain in safe, affordable housing. Here is one story of how emergency financial assistance coupled with budget and housing counseling provided stability at a critical time:

Greg (name changed), a U.S. Army Veteran, and his wife were expecting their first child. All was going well until things in the couple’s apartment started to break down and the landlord refused to fix them. In particular, the air conditioning unit began to run literally constantly, causing Greg’s power bill to triple. He believed the apartment was becoming unsafe, particularly with a child on the way.

Greg moved his family out of the apartment and moved in with his brother near Huntsville temporarily. He found a minimum wage job working about 30 hours per week. They made ends meet for a time because they only paid $300/month for room and board with his brother. But the couple wanted to return to Birmingham to live in a place of their own with their soon-to-be newborn.

Thankfully, Greg was approved for a VASH voucher – a rent subsidy program offered by the Veterans Administration. However, he was unable to take advantage of the program until his past-due utility bill was paid. Through collaborative efforts of United Way’s Priority Veteran and Financial & Housing Education programs, Greg was provided budget and housing counseling, and funding from the Housing Affordability Trust was utilized to pay Greg’s past due bill. This one-time intervention made a world of difference, allowing Greg and his growing family to return to Birmingham to live in a safe, affordable apartment of their own, and Greg to secure a better job than his temporary work in Huntsville.

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Since 2017, the Housing Affordability Trust has funded housing-related programs and projects in Metro Birmingham.