The following stories show the positive impact that housing assistance has had on the lives of some of HASCO’s clients.
HUD-Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers
These vouchers provide housing to homeless veterans who are referred by the VASH case managers. Referrals and services for these vouchers are provided by the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Below are stories from some of the clients who have been assisted by this program.
Prior to becoming homeless, Jeff was injured on the job and unable to work. He “made some bad choices” which led to homelessness. He had been living out of his car and relying on family for a few years when he received his VASH voucher. Travelling from family member to family member was very stressful, he said, since he felt that he was disturbing their routines with his presence. As a “fairly organized type of guy,” having his belongings in the trunk of his car was frustrating, like living out of a large suitcase. While homeless, he was diagnosed with anxiety and mild depression, which he believes will go away now that his voucher provides him and his son with a stable place to live.
Thanks to his VASH voucher, he and his son now live in their own place, each with their own bedroom. Jeff is also attending college. He believes that thanks to his housing, both he and his son will gain independence and confidence. Having a stable place for his family to live has given him a “better outlook on life” and “made [his] life more complete.” He says that he can’t give enough thanks to everyone whose hands touched the paperwork that led to his voucher.
The VASH program has touched the lives of many homeless veterans. Miles’ success story is best heard in his own words:
“Both [my wife] Deni and I have been gainfully employed all our lives, raised 6 great kids, while Deni was a very successful Realtor in Washington and California, myself a construction project manager, Sheriff volunteer and motorcycle officer for the Washington State motorcade, until one fine day in August of 2007, while I was traveling (on duty) along in Edmonds with my emergency lights and sirens in use, when an impaired driver pulled out in front of me, leaving me nowhere to go but into and over a car, finally having my 800 lb motorcycle land on me. I was taken to Stevens Hospital in Edmonds and then airlifted from there to Harborview Trauma Center in Seattle. I was in good hands and had my heart restarted a few times during the trip.
“Our savings and home were lost by mid-2009. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (my particular case manager) wasn’t doing much for me even though I begged! We became homeless and began our lives living in a garage. Deni worked as much as she could, commuting from Mukilteo to Tukwila daily. I did my best between surgeries and counseling. It wasn’t long before we felt hopeless, carless (it died) and jobless, yet we struggled on with smiles and thanks to those who tried to help us. The economy and the housing market fell, leaving Deni without other work.
“Late in 2011, Labor and Industries fired my case manager and took notice of the situation I was in through no fault of my own. Still, we were living in the cold but had food assistance and a small income. So much had hit us over the time that had passed since the…accident. We were depressed and felt very little self-worth.
“It was October of 2011 and out of total desperation that I took a two-hour bus ride to the Housing Authority of Snohomish County [office] in Everett. Upon arriving I climbed an interior stairway to the second floor and a friendly face behind a large glass window. The receptionist was busy and on the telephone explaining to someone that the HUD housing list was about three years out, but that they would be wise to fill out an application and get on the list. I smiled and began my descent back to hopelessness again when I heard the kindest voice ask me if she (the receptionist) might help me?
“It was about 10:30, the sun had just shown through the windows of the small reception area and I felt pretty good because of the peace I felt from behind the glass. I walked up to the window and politely said that I’d overheard the conversation she’d just completed and understood. She asked me to tell her a little bit about my situation. I did, and was asked to take a seat for a few minutes. After no more than five minutes, I was greeted by [VASH Clinician] Chris Horner, who immediately made me feel welcome, upbeat, and deserving of the help I was about to be given.
“After several days the support documents I needed were given to me by [the Housing Authority]. We were approved for housing assistance and were able to secure an apartment, a home, before Christmas. For us, just short of a miracle.
“My wife and I are so thankful for the sincere, professional and compassionate manner that HASCO and VASH have shown us through these two extraordinary ladies, Chris and [Housing Coordinator] Phyllis.”