The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of a support network and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. According to the Huntington VA Medical Center, there could be as many as 255 homeless veterans in our community by the end of 2016.
On September 11, 2014, Habitat for Humanity of the Tri-State (HFHTS) introduced a new program that focuses on helping veterans become homeowners. On that day, we broke ground on the first two homes as part of our Veterans Housing Initiative, and dedicated both homes on Veterans Day two months later. The first of its kind in West Virginia, HFHTS’s Veterans Housing Initiative is committed to addressing the housing needs of veterans in our community.
HFHTS is constructing new houses solely for single, adult veterans. It’s a collaborative program with the Huntington VA Medical Center’s Community Resource and Referral Center, and will provide veterans the opportunity to own their own homes. Veterans are selected and approved through the VA Medical Center. Veterans who participate must complete a minimum of 100 “sweat equity” hours for household and 200 "sweat equity" hours for a two person houshold – of which 20 will earned by taking homeowner education classes – and be responsible for paying back a no-profit, no-interest mortgage to the affiliate.
Why is this Program so Important?
HFHTS is tackling the housing problem within our community by creating a program to address the plight of local veterans. Formally homeless veterans who are currently renting an apartment or house and have expressed an interest in homeownership are eligible. The benefits of this program go beyond providing a new home for a veteran in need; once that veteran moves into their completed home, the housing voucher he or she was using can be utilized by another homeless veteran in our community to secure housing.
Gaining National Attention
In March 2015, HFHTS received national recognition for its Veterans Housing Initiative when the affiliate received Habitat for Humanity International’s Clarence E. Jordan Award, recognizing HFHTS’s creativity and innovation in building homes and communities. The award honors the legacy of Clarence Jordan, the founder of Koinonia Farm, a religious community in southwest Georgia, where the idea of Habitat for Humanity was born.
An Overwhelming Response
After announcing the creation of the Veterans Housing Initiative, community and state-wide support has been overwhelming. Already, dozens of volunteers have given of their time and talents to work on the first two houses, and this June as we work on the next eight homes HFHTS will receive unprecedented assistance from a group of people representing several counties throughout the state.
Here are a few numbers consider….
- A one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in the Huntington area:
- $533 per month – including utilities
- $425 per month – without utilities
- A one-bedroom Veterans Housing Initiative Home:
- $300 per month – including taxes, insurance, refuse and municipal service fees
How to Get Involved
Single, adult veterans or married veterans with no children living with them will be selected and approved through the VA Medical Center. Much like HFHTS’s new homeownership program, veterans who participate in the Veterans Housing Initiative will complete a minimum of 100 sweat equity hours for a single household or 200 hours for a two person household (of which 20 hours will be earned by taking homeowner education classes) and be responsible for paying back a no-profit, no-interest mortgage to the affiliate.
The Veterans Housing Initiative will allow veterans the opportunity to own their own simple, decent, affordable and energy efficient house.
For information to see if you might qualify, please contact the Huntington VA Medical Center’s Community Resource and Referral Center at 304-529-9142.