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Sat, Oct. 19

A call to arms: Finding homes for Kingman’s homeless veterans
They served, they sacrificed, and now they sleep in cars, parks and alleyways

Kingman honors its veterans on holidays and provides a variety of services, but finding affordable housing for veterans in Kingman is increasingly difficult. (Daily Miner file photo)

Kingman honors its veterans on holidays and provides a variety of services, but finding affordable housing for veterans in Kingman is increasingly difficult. (Daily Miner file photo)

While many people can relate to the relief one feels when heading home after a hard day’s work, there are those in the Kingman area who have worked harder and sacrificed more than most, yet have no homes to lay their heads.

Finding affordable housing for homeless veterans in the Kingman area has been a challenge of late, explained Angela Tankersley, case manager with Veterans Resource Centers of America. She averages about 20 clients a month seeking affordable housing in Kingman alone.

The case manager believes the struggle to find affordable housing in the area for homeless veterans has, in the last three months or so, is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

“The need is out of control right now. We have way more clients than we do housing. It’s just inexpensive, small housing because that’s what people can afford,” Tankersley said of the living arrangements sought for homeless veterans. “People are coming to Arizona because it is less expensive, thinking they ca afford to live here.”

However, the affordable housing situation in Kingman isn’t necessarily forgiving to veterans upon their arrival. Those who have sacrificed so much sleep in parks, alleys, behind buildings and in their cars.

But there’s a way community members can lend a hand; one they may have never considered.

“We are trying to find landlords out there who are willing to give a shot on a one-bedroom, small two-bedroom, something that’s an individual rental,” Tankersley said.

The average person isn’t the owner of an apartment complex, but there are plenty of people in the area with access to accommodations that would be suitable for veterans who are currently homeless.

“People who might have a garage apartment that they didn’t think about renting out, or a converted small, single-wide trailer, or travel trailer for that matter,” the case manager explained.

About 80% of Tankersley’s clients are single and could be accommodated via a one-bedroom or small living space. Some of those veterans live off $500 to $600 a month.

There are, however, a few four-person families that need a place to call home.

“So we’re looking for bigger houses now, too,” she said.

The primary requirement for landlords is that they take checks. As VRC is a nonprofit organization funded by the government, tax information is necessary. VRC must ensure landlords own the property at which veterans are staying and for which rent is received.

Aside from that caveat, living quarters need to fall under the category of basic affordable housing with windows, locks, doors, some degree of climate control, lighting, a kitchen and refrigerator.

“Anyone who’s willing to help a veteran who may have a place for rent, it’s a win-win because the veteran gets a place to live and the person can rent their place out,” Tankersley said. “Maybe they just don’t know there are options out there to help rent their space.”

From the VRC’s perspective, obtaining housing for veterans is step one in what can be a longer process.

“VA has shown that housing first is a way to keep people in permanent housing,” Tankersley said. “They’re securing the housing and then they can look for the job, and then they can look for the drug or alcohol treatment, or mental health therapy, or food stamps or whatever they need. Once they have a place to call home it’s easier to get all of those other resources working.”

Not everyone has a space that could accommodate a veteran. However, there are other ways to get involved such as donating supplies like chapstick, sunblock and sleeping bags.

For more information, to get involved or rent out a living space, contact Tankersley at 928-440-6408, 928-201-9190 or atankersley@vetsresource.org.

“Most of these veterans have just fallen down at one point in life and are just looking for one step in the right direction,” Tankersley said. “Maybe your place could be that step to get them permanently off the streets.”

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