Island County to be awarded rental vouchers for homeless veterans

Island County will be awarded more than a dozen rental vouchers to help homeless veterans find permanent homes.

While the state program has been in place for some time, it’s the first time Island County will receive the vouchers.

Teri Anania, executive director for the Island County Housing Authority, said she has been working to get these vouchers for Island County for years.

“We’ve been pretty vocal with our field office,” Anania said. “I was very excited.”

At least one requirement has stood in the way of Island County’s ability to get the vouchers, Anania said. Island County didn’t have access to a Veterans Administration community-based out-patient clinic until one was placed in Mount Vernon in recent years.

While the timeline is unclear, Anania said she hoped to have access to the 14 awarded vouchers by this summer and start to get homeless veterans placed quickly.

One of the challenges, Anania said, is getting veterans to admit they need assistance.

“Veterans are very reluctant to come forward and tell you they’re homeless,” Anania said.

Anania stressed that veterans must be receiving case management services and be referred to the program by the VA.

Lisa Clark, director of the Island County Service Center for the Opportunity Council, said with their homeless veteran outreach program, they will be in a position to refer eligible individuals to the VA and who will then work with the Housing Authority on receiving the vouchers.

Statewide the vouchers will provide affordable housing and supportive services to a total of 2,446 homeless veterans and their families, according to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, news release this week.

Awards went to housing authorities in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver, Bremerton, Everett, Yakima, Longview, Walla Walla and King, Chelan, Clallam, Island, Pierce and Skagit counties.

HUD is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Secretary Julian Castro said he is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including the broader administration goal of ending homelessness among veterans.

“These vouchers will help thousands of veterans start a new chapter in their lives and build for the future.  We look forward to partnering with communities to ensure that every veteran can secure this opportunity and have a place to call home,” Castro said.