AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earlier this year, Austin, Texas mayor Steve Adler took the challenge of finding homes for an estimated 200 homeless veterans.
Adler promised a deadline of Veterans Day and missed it. The new goal is to find homes for the veterans by the new year.
“Homelessness is like the worst. You know what I mean. Being homeless is worse than being in the penitentiary,” said Gary Robinson. He served in the Marine Corps. In January he lived in his car. Now, he has an apartment and is graduating from ACC to be an auto-tech. Having a home, he says, made it all possible.
“If I would have been homeless continuing out through my graduation I don’t know if I would have made it,” said Robinson.
He’s a success story in a larger step forward in the mayor’s initiative to end veteran homelessness. But it’s important not to end here.
“If we declare victory now and people go, hey man I’m done. We’re done. Alright let’s take a bow. And you have this ongoing, ever unraveling problem.” said Richard Troxell from House the Homeless. He says we still need more long-term affordable housing resources for mental health and advocates in the field to identify when new veterans move to Austin.
“Bring that all together, wrap it around these people in such a way that the veterans will stay,” said Troxell.
During this process, the mayor said there are two major obstacles. Affordable housing is hard to find in Austin with occupancy rates through the roof. Also finding landlords willing to take city vouchers and rent their property out for $800 or less a month.
Despite the city of Austin’s struggle to house all of the homeless veterans, the Texas Homeless Network said homelessness is down across the state by 17-percent.
United States Marine Corps Veteran Gary Robinson started off the year living out of his car. Fast forward 12 months and now Gary just graduated from Austin Community College and started work as an automotive technician. He said his biggest accomplishment was finding a place he can now call home.
Adler’s Chief Service Officer, Sly Majid, said “We also helped create the Housing Heroes Fund, which we initially slated to raise $150,000. We’ve raised over $350,000, which we’ve been able to use to provide support for veterans and create greater affordability so they can live and find permanent supportive housing here in Austin.”
When we last heard from Mayor Adler, 100 veterans still needed homes. This number is down from nearly 250 veterans who needed homes at the beginning of the year, but now have a roof over their heads.
To donate or learn more about the Housing Heroes Fund click here.