Housing Program Aims to Assist Homeless Veterans

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WESLACO – The Housing Urban Development and Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing is a program designed to help homeless veterans find a permanent living situation.

The program allocates more than 78,000 vouchers to veterans across the U.S. every year to help veterans with their monthly rent.

One Rio Grande Valley veteran finds himself with a roof over his head tonight through the HUD-VASH program. Juan Lopez lost his house and eight pets to a fire.

At 61 years old, he found himself cold, scared and not knowing what his next move would be.

“I ended up back and I ended up sleeping in the streets, in the parks or on the transit parts and stuff,” recalls Lopez.

Lopez said he had trouble sleeping for the two months he was on the streets. He said fear kept him up at night.

It wasn’t until one evening at the Salvation Army that Lopez was able to find some help. 

A HUD-VASH representative, Cecilia Garza-Garcia, showed up asking for veterans. Lopez jumped at the chance for some help. She is now Lopez’s HUD-VASH social worker.

She has worked with the VA for 11 years, but has only been with the HUD-VASH program for four years and expresses that having an office on wheels is a benefit.

“Some veterans in our program maybe don't have transportation and that's a big obstacle for them coming into the clinic,” said Garza-Garcia as she drives around to clients.

The social worker also explained that there are requirements to enter the HUD-VASH program.

She mentions the veterans applying need to have served enough years and have the proper discharge as well as an income low enough to qualify them for Section 8 housing.

"I'm so happy because I have clean clothes you know. I have a shower and a bed to sleep and a shelter," said Lopez.

Information about HUD-VASH eligibility can be found here and further details over VA supportive housing can be found here.

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