published Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Grant funds veteran housing vouchers

IF YOU GO

* What: Informational meeting about housing veterans

* When: 6 p.m. tonight

* Where: Chattanooga Housing Authority office, 801 Holtzclaw Ave.

* For more information: 752-4833.

Howard Glenn served his country as a sergeant in the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Army for six years. But for the past year, he's been sleeping in a tent.

"I sleep under a blanket freezing to death," said Glenn, a 49-year-old former Marine water safety survival instructor. He served as a chaplain's assistant in the Army.

Glenn is among nearly 250 homeless veterans in Chattanooga whom the Chattanooga Housing Authority wants to give housing vouchers. But first the agency needs property owners willing to participate in the project-based, federally funded Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing program.

CHA was awarded $182,751 to assist 35 homeless veterans in 2009, but this is the first time local administrators have sought project-based vouchers for the veterans. In the program, a voucher is assigned to a specific housing unit for a veteran instead of the voucher following the veteran to wherever he can find housing.

The program pays at least a portion of market rate rent to landlords for housing veterans. Veterans will also pay one-third of their income.

"It's guaranteed rent for CHA's portion and you have the benefit of assisting veterans to get off the streets," said Tammie Reaves, CHA's Housing Choice Voucher program director.

CHA is hosting a meeting for interested property owners at 6 p.m. today.

The housing agency must secure the property owners before it can apply to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for vouchers to house the veterans. The deadline for CHA to apply for the vouchers is the end of the month.

Howard has Parkinson's disease and had been homeless for about a year before he started getting disability payments. He got his first check in January, but he still doesn't have housing, although he's on several waiting lists.

Housing for homeless veterans is critical, said Mary Simon, executive director of the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition. The Obama administration has made it a goal to end homelessness among veterans nationwide within five years and the coalition supports that goal, she said.

The Rev. Edward Thrasher has two properties available and said he will rent to a veteran or anyone else who takes care of the apartment.

"It sounds like a good idea but because you're a veteran doesn't mean you're responsible," he said. "As a landlord, you want the best tenants. That means their attitude and how they maintain the property."

Thrasher said he's interested in the program and will try to learn more about it.

Landlords should at least consider giving veterans a chance to get housing, Glenn said. Property owners concerned about housing them could look at the vet's military record to get an idea of his character, Glenn said.

"They served the country, at least give them a voucher so they can get in a place," he said. "And if they fail to pay it, then they're on their own. But if they continue to be responsible, and I know they are, they're going to be a good tenant."

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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