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Austin's Challenge: House our Heroes
By Guest Blogger / September 9, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

Recently, New Orleans and Houston announced they’ve reached “functional zero” on the moving target of homeless veterans as part of the “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness,” a national partnership of local officials, community housing and homeless service providers, federal agencies, and corporate and philanthropic organizations. Austin mayor Steve Adler says Austin will be the next city to house all who have served our country.

It’s our responsibility as a community to make sure every veteran has a safe and stable home. The solution to end veteran homelessness in Austin is comprised of the perfect triangle of landlords, business leaders and service providers coming together:

1.    Landlords willing to take the perceived financial risk of housing homeless heroes.

2.    The business community stepping in to help by providing a fund to mitigate risk and unforeseen costs of the landlords; held in the Mayor Adler’s Housing Heroes Fund at the Austin Community Foundation.

3.    Service providers that help the homeless providing a case worker to each family whom the landlord can contact if there are any problems.

The goal is achievable: we must find 200 housing units for veterans and raise $200,000 for a relief fund that will mitigate the perceived risks that participating landlords and property managers may take when entering a lease agreement with a veteran household exiting homelessness. Our goal is to achieve this by Veterans Day, November 11th.

Home at Last

Our plan has already helped Robert Hill and his family find a home. Most people who know Hill don't know how big of a victory finding a home is for the former Navy serviceman. The family moved to Austin in 2012, right after Hill finished serving four years in the Navy, attracted by our strong economy. But earlier this year Hill was laid off and learned he had diabetes. He got behind on rent. In June, Hill and his then seven-month pregnant wife Tenisha and their three sons became homeless and were forced to live in their SUV.  Hill found a new job but wasn’t successful finding a place to live.

Three weeks ago the Hill family moved into a rental house in South Austin thanks to our Housing Our Heroes initiative. Learn more about the Hill family.

Our Accomplishments So Far

  • 80 of the 200 housing unit goal have been committed and 10 of those contracts have been fulfilled.
  • Nearly $70,000 has been donated towards our $200,000 relief fund goal 

 

Hear more about the Mayor’s Challenge to end veteran homelessness.

How You Can Help

Austin is a community that can work together to fight for those who have fought for us. Our homeless veterans include women and children. We must ensure they have safe and accessible housing.

Join community leaders David Roche, Kirk Rudy and Ann Howard and property management companies Avesta Capella, Capstone Management and Roscoe Properties who have already donated their time, talent and treasure to house our heroes.

  • Lease your property to a hero. If you are a property owner, register here or contact Bree Williams with ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition) at 512-940-9690. Identifying housing units is proving to be most challenging and we need all of the help we can get.
  • Donate to Mayor Adler’s Housing Heroes Fund. Any amount helps!

A crucial part of this plan is determining what each veteran needs to succeed, to ensure they don’t end up homeless again. I want to thank ECHO, Caritas, Front Steps and the Salvation Army among others, who are working together to ensure wrap-around services for the veterans we house.

We are going to end veteran homelessness in this city by Veterans Day. I hope you’ll join me in this challenge. Learn how you can house a hero or donate.

UPDATE (May 17, 2016)

Mayor Adler’s Housing Heroes Fund received $393,000 from over 300 donors, exceeding the project’s initial fundraising goal of $200,000. Funds donated to the Housing Heroes Fund provide for security deposits, temporary rental assistance and repairs or improvements to ensure veterans’ success. While most veterans identified in the campaign now have housing, the effort is ongoing and housing units are still needed for veterans and other families and individuals. Learn how you can house a hero or donate.

Prior to being elected mayor late last year, Mayor Steve Adler practiced civil rights law and represented landowners in a successful domain law practice. Mayor Adler also served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel for Texas State Senator Eliot Shapleigh, working on school finance, equity and access issues. Mayor Adler has been deeply involved with many civic and non-profit organizations over the past twenty years. He and his wife, Diane Land, are proud parents of three adult daughters.

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