A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. -Joseph Campbell, author

Since the United States was founded, men and women have given their lives in battle to protect and serve this country. On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price to defend the United States and our principles of freedom.

Those who have died in battle left this world as heroes, giving their lives for a cause greater than themselves. Those who are still with us deserve the love, respect, and care that honor their sacrifice. And this care includes access to affordable housing and supportive programs when they are needed.

But as a nation, we could serve our veterans better. In 2013, nearly 60,000 homeless veterans were living on the street – a 25 percent decline since 2007. Nearly 500 of those were living in the District.

Because The District of Columbia Housing Authority is committed to serving D.C.’s veteran population, this agency participates in several programs to support them.

Since 2008, we have awarded 809 Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program vouchers and administered an award-winning program that is a national model for housing homeless veterans.

We are also one of the agencies involved in the Veterans NOW initiative, which is working to end veteran homelessness in the District by 2015, following a nationwide goal. Last year, DCHA and its Veterans NOW partners, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the District’s Office of Veteran Affairs, were able to house 207 veterans during a 100-day campaign. We did this by reaching out to our existing landlord network and asking where available units for veterans could be found. The authority coordinated with its partners to have those units inspected and approved for immediate move-in. The agency also held fairs and workshops for veterans to learn about health, job training, and other services.

And one particular project that is close to my heart, DCHA also shined a light on the needs of female veterans and their families by providing project-based VASH vouchers to create Fendall Heights. Those vouchers reduced the cost of each of the 29 apartments there. Of the 21 family units at Fendall Heights, 17 have women as head of household. All seven of the one-bedroom units are currently occupied by single women. And since they are project-based VASH vouchers, those units will always serve veterans.

It is our desire—and our duty—to make sure veterans have decent housing and supportive communities.

I’m proud of the work DCHA has done to be a leader and a model for others to follow in our service to those that have protected us here and overseas, during wartime and peace time, to ensure our way of life for years into the future. Let us continue to honor our veterans and their families with our service, as appreciation for what they have done for us.

We honor those who have served and we thank those families who still have loved ones serving in the Armed Forces.

Last modified: 5/23/2014 9:06:27 AM