Photo by Travis Rains.
KINGMAN – Mohave County continues to make progress in its efforts to end veteran homelessness, having just received more than $74,000 by way of 15 vouchers that will help homeless veterans find permanent homes.
Mohave County Community Services Department is one of only two Arizona housing authorities that received vouchers from HUD-VASH, a partnership between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. The Tempe Housing Authority also received vouchers.
Dave Wolf, director at the Mohave County community services department, explained that partnerships with local agencies like the housing authority and continuum of care, as well as with the VA, have helped the county receive funding despite fierce national competition.
“We’re very fortunate to get the funding into the community; we’re only one of two agencies in the state that got additional cash vouchers,” he said. “I think that’s because we have demonstrated a need here when we do our point in time survey. We consistently identify 60 or so veterans that are homeless, and that’s just a one-point in time of people who are homeless on one day, the third week of January.”
Wolf said since the department has received vouchers about every year, or every other year, since it began applying for funds in 2011. The 15 vouchers appropriated to the county April 9 bring the total number of vouchers for Mohave County to 126.
Homeless veterans are prioritized based on a needs assessment that determines who is most in need of housing. Prioritization includes considerations like medical issues and age. The first category addressed are the chronically homeless, those who have
been homeless for a year or more.
“The ability to take a veteran who has been homeless for potentially a year or longer, and say, living out in the desert or in their car, and then actually providing housing for that family is incredibly rewarding,”
The Mohave County Housing Authority identifies landlords willing to work with the program to house veterans, after which VA case managers help with the day to day search in addition to daily activities.
Wolf noted that the case managers play a vital role in the effort to end veteran homelessness. He added that aside from being provided with housing, veterans get additional services through case management.
“They help people find the appropriate housing, they’re working with them dealing with substance abuse issues, mental health issues, increasing their income if they’re unemployed and working toward getting them disability if they’re unemployable …” Wolf said. “They’re really an essential element. You have to have a good relationship with your VA case managers and program in order to have a viable VASH program. It’s very essential.”
The work doesn’t stop once the veterans are housed. The goal is for the veterans to become stabilized in that housing, taking into consideration monthly costs of living like rent and utility payments. Wolf said this is where case managers into play.
“It’s one thing to get into housing, but then they have to maintain their housing situation and become stabilized in that housing,” Wolf said. “For some chronically homeless people, who have perhaps been homeless for years, that requires a lot of ongoing case management.”
HUD is making progress in ending veteran homelessness, and Wolf is excited that Mohave County can do its part in providing homes for those who served their country.
“We’re going to do what we can to help end homelessness in our community,” he said.