October 8, 2018
Housing Our Heroes Initiative Receives National Award
The collaborative initiative helped 1,000 homeless Veterans secure rental housing
SAN DIEGO, CA — The Housing Our Heroes initiative, which helped 1,000 homeless Veterans in the City of San Diego secure rental housing, has been selected as one of only 22 programs nationwide to receive an Award of Excellence this year from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO).
“We’re taking creative and different approaches as we work to reduce homelessness in our region, and we’re most proud of the progress we’ve made in helping homeless veterans,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, who first announced the Housing Our Heroes initiative in his State of the City Address on January 14, 2016. “The success of our innovative ‘Housing Our Heroes’ program in getting over 1,000 veterans off the street and into permanent homes is a testament to the creativity of City leaders, the San Diego Housing Commission and, most importantly, the landlords who stepped up to be part of the solution.”
A collaboration between the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) and the City of San Diego, Housing Our Heroes launched on March 1, 2016, when the San Diego City Council unanimously approved funding for the initiative.
Within 18 months, Housing Our Heroes reached its goal of helping 1,000 homeless Veterans in the City of San Diego secure rental housing through this collaborative effort to provide them with a path off the streets.
“The Housing Our Heroes initiative proved what we can accomplish when government agencies, landlords and service providers work together. I thank the Mayor and the City Council for their leadership and support of this effort, as well as our partners and the staff at the San Diego Housing Commission. This national recognition is well-deserved,” SDHC Chairman of the Board Frank Urtasun said.
More than 430 individual landlords participated in Housing Our Heroes. Approximately 45 percent of them were new to SDHC rental assistance programs.
“Housing Our Heroes implemented an innovative approach to addressing homelessness by providing incentives and support to landlords who rented to homeless Veterans. Building on the success of this effort, the San Diego Housing Commission continues to work with the Mayor, City Council and our partners through the Landlord Engagement and Assistance Program to assist Veterans and non-Veterans experiencing homelessness,” SDHC President & CEO Richard C. Gentry said.
Housing Our Heroes consisted of four programs:
- Landlord Outreach: This program provided incentives for landlords with rental properties in the City of San Diego with rental units located in ZIP Code 92037 and ZIP Codes that begin with 921, excluding 92118, and landlords in the City of National City with rental units located in ZIP Code 91950 who rent to homeless Veterans.
- Rapid Rehousing Assistance: Funds were awarded to nonprofit or for-profit service providers through a competitive Notice of Funding Availability. The service providers make rental assistance payments directly to landlords (on average, four to six months, but may cover up to two years) and pay up-front move-in costs, such as security deposits and utility deposits.
- SDHC Federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers: SDHC partners with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) San Diego Healthcare System to administer VASH vouchers, which provide rental assistance to honorably discharged Veterans experiencing chronic homelessness while also having a disability.
- SDHC Federal Housing Vouchers with Supportive Services: SDHC awards Sponsor-Based Housing Vouchers to nonprofit or for-profit organizations, or “sponsors,” to provide rental assistance to homeless Veterans to help pay for their housing. The “sponsors” provide supportive services, such as mental health counseling; substance abuse treatment programs; and independent living skills classes
Additional partners in the Housing Our Heroes initiative included: the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego County Apartment Association, the California Apartment Association, the VA San Diego Healthcare System, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and many homeless service providers.
Housing Our Heroes directed up to $12.5 million over two years in Federal, City and SDHC resources to provide housing opportunities for 1,000 homeless Veterans. On June 6, 2017, the San Diego City Council authorized SDHC to utilize $4.4 million of these funds toward the expansion of the Landlord Outreach program—now known as the Landlord Engagement and Assistance Program (LEAP), which provides incentives to landlords who rent to anyone experiencing homelessness in the City of San Diego.
LEAP is part of the current phase of HOUSING FIRST – SAN DIEGO, SDHC’s homelessness action plan, which launched on July 1, 2017, and will provide permanent housing opportunities for at least 3,000 homeless San Diegans over three fiscal years.
The NAHRO Award of Excellence for Housing Our Heroes will be presented at NAHRO’s annual conference on October 26.
For more information about SDHC, visit www.sdhc.org
Vice President of Communications
San Diego Housing Commission