35 veterans in valley receive rent vouchers

Sen. Michael Bennet

Were it not for a cooperative program aimed at reducing homelessness among veterans, Daniel Hickman might have had to split up his family.

Hickman, a single father of four, found himself needing help to remain in his family’s rented home near Nisley Elementary School.

Enter a federal program known as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, which issued him a voucher that made it possible for Hickman and his family to stay together in the home.

“Before, the landlord was calling, saying I need to start the eviction process,” Hickman said.

Now, with the voucher program, Hickman can concentrate on earning a living and being a full-time father to his children.

Hickman and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., on Friday toured a unit in the Grand Junction Housing Authority’s Arbor Vista multifamily rental development at 515 Court Road.

The program “is a great example of partnership,” Bennet said after the tour and meeting with Grand Valley veterans. “That makes it so easy to help from Washington, D.C.”

Hickman and 34 other veterans are receiving the vouchers, which are tailored to meet the individual circumstances of veterans, said Lisa Strauss, the homeless coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Grand Junction.

Officials with the housing program expect to obtain at least 25 more vouchers for veterans, Strauss said.

Veterans in eligible income categories pay 30 percent of their rent, with the voucher program picking up the rest, Strauss said.

The voucher program is a part of the effort to help veterans deal with the return to civilian life and help them avoid homelessness.

“We surround them with services,” Strauss said.

Agencies such as the housing authority are involved, as are organizations such as Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, which applied for stimulus money to supply the security deposits needed to make the voucher program work.

Such programs are important because of the debt owed by the nation to its veterans.

“We can’t stop fighting,” Bennert said, “until we’re able to say there are zero homeless veterans in the state of Colorado.”


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