Mohave County wins surprise award for helping veterans
Mohave County staff show off the award they received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during a recent Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting. From left are Dave Wolf, Danya Herd, Jennifer Burch, Jennifer Harper, Toni Ambrose, Jeremiah Jensen, Ed Sheir, and Board Supervisor Buster Johnson. (Courtesy)
1/31/2014 6:00:00 AM
By Kim Steele
KINGMAN - Dave Wolf was surprised when he learned the Mohave County Housing Authority had been chosen in December for a big award.
For one thing, Wolf, who is housing and community revitalization manager for the Mohave County Community Services Department, hadn't applied for the award. Also, he had no idea that the Phoenix field office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had done it for him.
The county's community services department runs the county's housing authority.
The award, called the 2013 Most Valuable Partner Award, was presented to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors recently. It was given to the county housing authority in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for locally implementing the Veteran Administration Supportive Housing Program.
"We're very proud and happy to serve our veterans," said Wolf. "No one is more deserving than those who sacrifice themselves to serve their country. This is a fabulous award and we feel very good about it. We were overwhelmed that we won and it was a big surprise for us. We were just doing our job, so this was very unexpected for us."
In April 2012, Mohave County received $136,099 from HUD to provide rental assistance for 25 homeless veteran families, including referrals and case management. The VASH program allows the county to determine income eligibility while the VA determines the applicants' veteran-status eligibility for the program and addresses their Social Security, medical insurance and disability needs.
"We did so well in our performance in getting the program going that HUD and the VA awarded us funding in December for an additional 25 vouchers to help 25 more homeless veteran families," said Wolf, noting that amount was $148,446.
According to HUD, veterans must be homeless, have a low income and posses a military discharge that is other than dishonorable to qualify.
So far, said Wolf, 26 veterans have been placed in housing, and another 10-plus vouchers have been issued for those seeking to get off the streets and into their own homes.
One of the first participants assisted through VASH was Lucy Alderson, 90, who served as a medical technician at San Leandro Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., during World War II, taking care of wounded servicemen returning from the Pacific.
With the help of the VASH program, Alderson, who had been living in a shed for 12 years, is now a resident of Somerset Village Apartments, an independent living facility for seniors in Kingman.
"To be singled out like this nationally is a great thing for Mohave County," said Supervisor Gary Watson, District 1. "Homelessness among veterans is a problem nationally and anything we can do locally to help our homeless veterans is important. We do a great job here in Mohave County and I'm proud of everyone who has helped with the program.
"I just wish we could do more."