The Waco community set a goal: to eliminate chronic homelessness by 2014. Currently, there are 24 homeless veterans who have been taken off the street and placed into housing through the Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing Program. This is important because approximately one-third of the homeless in America are veterans. Typically the vouchers involve homeless veterans paying 30 percent of his or her income towards their rent.
The VA has reserved 35 vouchers for Waco’s homeless veterans since 2008. Once those are used up, local officials are attempting to secure more. Waco has applied for twelve more mental health and retardation vouchers besides the ones already covered by The Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation which include:
- Four vouchers for the chronically homeless; and
- Eleven vouchers for the transitionally homeless.
In order for the city to eliminate their homeless problem and meet their goal they will need to establish 60 permanent housing units. The people they are attempting to help the most, the chronically homeless, include mentally ill people as well as those that have been homeless for multiple years. Most homeless veterans are not only single males, but are also from the Vietnam War-era.
The program seems to be having a positive effect on the veterans taking advantage of it. Only three percent of the 210 homeless veterans receiving vouchers in three counties have been evicted. The demand for help for the homeless is not fading away, however. Indeed, temporary homelessness in Waco is on the rise.
The demographic of the people using the vouchers have changed as well. Waco has distributed vouchers to five families of younger veterans whereas in the past those vouchers would have gone to single people. Lack of jobs are making it more and more difficult to support a family, especially for veterans suffering from various mental health issues as a result of recent service.