Veterans housing available in October

Veterans housing available in October

August 10th, 2011 by Yolanda Putman in News

Douglas House poses for portraits outside the Community Kitchen on East 11th Street on Tuesday morning.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

It gets hot living in a tent in the summer and it's hard to stay clean, said Douglas House.

The Gulf War veteran served from 1988 to 1994. He said he was a U.S. Navy Seal who worked on underwater demolition and was a part of an anti-terrorist task force. He's been homeless in Chattanooga for seven months, he said.

But he may be among eight veterans to receive temporary housing this year.

"I can't take the heat any more," said House. "I feel like I'm losing 30 pounds a night [in sweat]."

House, 44, is among some 55 homeless veterans in Chattanooga who may qualify to live in an eight-bed transitional home when it opens in late October. He's now living in a tent in a wooded area near downtown Chattanooga.

The house, located in the 5900 block of Shaw Avenue near the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, will be the first Veterans Administration Transitional Housing Program in the city, said Dan Heim, health care for homeless veterans program coordinator with the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.

"The goal is to get veterans into permanent housing," said Heim. "This provides an interim period where they can get their disability check in place if needed, get employment counseling. Drug and alcohol and financial counseling will also be offered."

All local veterans are eligible, except for those who received a dishonorable discharge.

The model in Chattanooga will be based on veteran transition housing that has operated in Nashville for at least five years, said Heim. The house is provided through a partnership with the Veterans Administration office and Buffalo Valley Inc.

Buffalo Valley, based in Hohenwald, Tenn., provides housing for vets while the VA will provide services in those homes, said Heim. The VA will pay Buffalo Valley a fee for each veteran admitted.

More information

For more information about transitional veteran housing in Chattanooga, call Beth Ratledge at 893-6500, ext. 27058.

Veterans may be charged up to 30 percent of their income as rent for the housing, he said, and men may live in the house for up to two years.

Buffalo Valley Executive Director Jerry Risner said he is a veteran and considers it a privilege to help other veterans.

"I think of this as an honor to serve my federal veterans," Risner said. "We can never do too much serve our veterans who have served us so well."

Veterans interested in housing may contact the local VA Outpatient Clinic or call outreach coordinator Beth Ratledge at the clinic.

House said he's been so busy trying to find a job that he hasn't looked for a house, but the VA house is a badly needed shelter for some veterans. Anything beats living in a tent, House said.

"There's a need for housing for everybody, not just veterans," he said. "A lot of people are living in tents."

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