Austin Mayor Steve Adler has set a goal to end veteran homelessness in the city by Veterans Day. This year, that’s Nov. 11. Despite reports that have said the mayor has had to push back that date, Adler says he’s sticking to his deadline.
As Adler describes it, reaching his goal of getting homes for every homeless veteran is best told in a series of problems and solutions.
The first problem? Austin’s competitive rental scene.
“It’s a landlord’s market,” he says. “A unit becomes available and landlords are immediately being contacted by several tenants or prospective tenants.”
Obviously, a landlord’s market means rent prices are up. The City’s solution for that is housing vouchers, which offset the cost of rent for veterans. But, as Adler says, this bandage can only cover so much of the wound.
“There’s a price cap on what the voucher will provide. So we created the ‘risk fund,’” he says.
The “risk fund” is a pool of money used to help bridge the gap between the voucher allotment and the actual monthly rent. The goal was to raise $150,000 – to date, there’s roughly $170,000* in the risk fund. The prospect of the fund being filled in the four weeks until the deadline, Adler says, is going to require a “big push.”
At an event announcing the initiative in August, Adler characterized the issue of homelessness among veterans as a "manageable problem."
"The numbers are not so great that we just throw up our arms," he said.
Now, he says, despite making funding available to veterans, too few landlords are willing to rent to veterans needing financial assistance. Landlords who are interested in renting to homeless veterans are encouraged to call the Mayor’s office.
*This story has been corrected. Originally it stated that there was $17,000 in the risk fund.