The Housing Authority of Newnan is looking into voucher programs to help provide housing for veterans and for disabled adults under age 62.
Several community partners were invited to a meeting Thursday to discuss the voucher program applications.
The plan to apply for Veteran’s Affairs Supportive Housing – VASH – vouchers was thwarted when a representative from the Veteran’s Administration told Housing Authority officials that there are currently unused vouchers available for Coweta.
Lina Martinez, who runs the housing choice voucher program for the Housing Authority, had contacted the VA to get a letter of support for the authority’s application.
“The director of the VA’s VASH homeless program told me that there are VASH vouchers available through the Department of Community Affairs and they have some that are not being utilized,” Martinez said. “They’re saying we really don’t have a lot of homeless veterans in the area."
That comment was met with surprise by some in the room.
“I’ve got one right now,” said Frankie Hardin of One Roof Outreach.
“I’ve got a couple, too,” said Maria Bowers Gardner of Newnan First United Methodist Church.
Paul Richardson, service officer for the local Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, asked who they needed to talk to to find out more information about the program.
There is definitely a need for services for homeless veterans and those with housing struggles, Janet Alford of the VFW Auxiliary said after the meeting.
Alford said that when they get calls from veterans needing help, they don’t know where to refer them.
Martinez said that in their conversation, the representative from the VA gave the impression that most of the services are in Atlanta.
She said she thinks that if there were more awareness of the voucher program, more local veterans would be able to benefit from it.
Sandra Strozier, executive director of the housing authority, said that veterans are given preferential points when it comes to the waiting list for housing at the housing authority.
“Please let veterans know they can apply every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Strozier said.
Strozier and Martinez said after the meeting they didn’t know about the VASH program through DCA, but will be finding out more information so that they can help refer people to get the vouchers.
The vouchers for the disabled adults will be available for families that have a disabled adult – the disabled person doesn’t have to be the head of household. The “mainstream” vouchers are similar to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and the authority will have to open up its Section 8 waiting list to add people for the disabled adults vouchers, Martinez said.
They are working on how to add criteria for the disabled applicants to the waiting list. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development doesn’t allow the authority to run two separate Section 8 waiting lists, she said.
“We’re opening up the waiting list, just not for everybody,” Martinez said.
A family or individual applying for the vouchers must have a disability that meets the requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income, though the applicant doesn’t have to actually be receiving SSI or other disability. The disability can be physical or mental.
One of the requirements of the voucher grant is that 80 percent of the voucher recipients must be housed within the first year, said Alfrieda Thomas, director of resident services for the authority.
That means the authority needs to work on partnerships with local landlords to ensure there are enough units available.
The recipients also must receive wraparound services from community partners, and that’s where the organizations attending the meeting come in.
The grant application is due in September, Thomas said.