For Immediate ReleaseJune 11, 2015
Marin appeals to landlords after eight more apartment vouchers secured
San Rafael, CA – There is good news for Marin County military veterans who are struggling to find housing: Eight more vouchers are available to find permanent shelter, courtesy of the federal government. Now, it’s just a matter of finding local landlords to make apartments available.
Since 2009, Marin has had 35 federally paid vouchers designated for veterans courtesy of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In early June, the Veterans Administration was notified of eight more vouchers approved, bringing the total to 43. The VA has contacted Marin’s Veterans Services Officer, Sean Stephens, to help match homeless veterans with local landlords who are willing to participate in the program.
“This means a lot to have more vouchers, but the challenge is ahead of us in finding available apartments in one of the most expensive places to live in the whole country,” said Stephens, a four-tour combat veteran from the Afghanistan campaigns. “We’re relying on human compassion. The message we have in mind is a poster of Uncle Sam pointing and saying ‘We need a few good landlords.’”
The vouchers cover studio apartments for a maximum of $1,310 per month or one-bedroom apartments for a maximum of $1,706 per month. “There are very few places available for those prices in Marin,” said Michelle Funez Arteaga, a senior social worker and the only U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official based in Marin.
Arteaga is charged with carrying on President Barack Obama’s 2010 pledge to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. According to 2014 federal figures, veteran homelessness is down 33 percent since 2010, but there is a long way to go, especially in areas where housing costs are extreme. Stephens has trekked all over Marin talking to homeless people and asking them if they served in the military, and he continues to work with Arteaga to fulfill the President’s initiative.
“I’ve been doing this here in Marin for five years, and it’s very hard to find rental units,” said Arteaga, who has a Novato office at the New Beginnings Center at Homeward Bound of Marin. “With every single person we’ve housed, you feel like you’ve won the lottery.”
Some veterans who have been housed through the federal subsidies have reestablished themselves in communities as employees, students and volunteers. A few reconnected with estranged or long-lost family members after a stabilization period in an apartment.
“A few of them were in very fragile health when they were placed and had adult children who were able to be with them before they passed away,” Arteaga said. “That was so much better than leaving them on the streets.”
Landlords interested in the program are urged to call Stephens at 415-473-6193 or Arteaga at 415-350-4182. Learn more about what the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services is doing about connecting landlords with homeless people by watching this video.
Sean StephensVeterans Services OfficerHealth and Human Services
10 N. San Pedro Rd.Suite 1010San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-6193Email: Sean StephensVeterans Services website