New proposal aims to get homeless vets off streets, into housing

Industry News,

By: Blaine Tolison Updated: Oct 20, 2017 - 6:11 PM


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Many veterans are unable to afford a roof over their heads. Now, Charlotte area apartment owners have a plan for city leaders that could help cover the cost.

Getting vets off the street and into housing takes will, some paperwork, and most of all, money. The people behind the new proposal told Channel 9 that they might have all the pieces to bridge the gap for veterans.

William Brewer served four years in the U.S. Army. He’s now 62 years old and money is tight.

Brewer has been forced into a homeless shelter in the past.

"Being in that shelter is not a place for us veterans," Brewer said.

He needs help paying rent, like many other veterans looking for housing in Charlotte. Hundreds of vets in the city get assistance with vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs, but $854 is the maximum reimbursement from the federal government -- Charlotte's average monthly rent is $1,010.

Brewer said, "We run around and check with apartments and see if they except the vouchers. And I'd say like, 85 percent of people, apartment people here in Charlotte, don't accept them."

That’s why the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association and other homeless advocate groups, like Housing Charlotte, are asking city to cover the gap between rental rates and federal aid.

Apartment owners argue it's not so easy to simply lower the rent.

"It gets difficult to say, ‘Well, we got this discount over here for this. The rate does cover all the costs,’" Bryan Holladay, GCAA government affairs manager, said.

The difference is about $250 a month. It would cost $250,000 to help 100 veterans for two years, but it would have to be funded and approved by city council.

"If we can find funding for that gap, it would open up more housing opportunities for these veterans," Holladay said.

Brewer said it isn't a fix all, but it would help.

"That is a good start," Brewer said.

The hope is to get the plan to a vote by city council by the end of the year -- but it could take longer. The other challenge is getting apartment owners through the red tape.