SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Homeless veterans will very soon have a roof over their head. The first five Rental Assistance Housing Vouchers for veterans in the region have been approved.
The Deep East Texas Council of Governments is administering the program. In San Augustine County, home owners are eager to assist homeless veterans.
"Go inside," Dr. Joanne Alexandria told a veteran Monday. Okay."
Alexandria, who is a property owner, was eager to show off a home she renovated with veterans in mind.
"We have a big fireplace and this is living and dining," Alexandria said. "A large, open concept kitchen."
The nurse and wife of a disabled veteran is certain their acreage can be used as a veterans group home.
"And this looks out onto that forest," Alexandria said.
Alexandria pictures the woods as a place of solitude for reflection.
In reality, the Pineywoods is where many veterans choose to live, according to Veronica Thomas, DETCOG's Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing outreach coordinator.
"They pitch a tent in the woods," Thomas said. "They can fish. They can hunt. They can survive."
Still there is no permanency.
"It's unconscionable that these men are living in the woods," Alexandria said. "They're cold. They're hungry. They're in carports. They're sleeping in cars. People's sofas. It's not right."
Thomas, a veteran herself, convinces homeless veterans to accept rental vouchers. Once approved, the applicants are matched with landlords across a 15-county east Texas region.
"There should be roughly 1,349 homeless veterans," Thomas said. "That's based upon the national statistics. I have a veteran that's 26 years old, and I've spoken with one that's 96 years old."
In addition, there are homeless veteran women and men with families.
Another prospective home was toured Monday. San Augustine's American Legion commander Art Bedford, the owner, is ready for a partnership.
"They served our nation, and the least we can do is help them," Bedford said.
That help could include providing a place a veteran can say welcome.
"A decent home," Alexandria said.
Thursday is the national Point in Time homeless count. DETCOG is coordinating counts across its service area.
Toiletries and non-perishable food snacks will be given to the homeless. Veterans will receive backpacks. Donations are welcomed. Also furnishings for the rental property are needed.
If you are a veteran that needs assistance or if you know a veteran that needs housing assistance please call Thomas at (800) 256-6848, extension 5335 for more information. Additionally, if you are a landlord and would like to participate in the HUD-VASH program you should contact DETCOG.