S.F. Needs More Landlords to Rent to Homeless Veterans

S.F. Needs More Landlords to Rent to Homeless Veterans


San Francisco Chronicle

November 10, 2016


We have seen an unprecedented focus on homelessness in San Francisco this past year from The Chronicle-led SF Homeless Project media coverage, the creation of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and numerous ballot initiatives. Homelessness has long been a divisive issue, and is even more so now because of the rapid rise in housing costs. I often hear that we need to shake up the system and innovate our way to new solutions to address homelessness. From my perspective, we know the answers; we have to act.


San Francisco has had a rich history with the military and welcoming veterans to our city. Now as a community, we must work to create more housing opportunities and ensure that no veteran is left, forgotten, on our streets. We need more landlords to consider renting to veterans.


I have heard, read and been actively involved in countless proposals to end veteran homelessness. My organization has worked since 1974 to end homelessness and poverty among veterans. I have spent my career helping my veteran peers. I’ll be the first to admit there is no silver bullet. That said, a “housing first” approach is starting to work.


In late 2009, the White House and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced an audacious goal: to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Few people believed we could achieve it. Nevertheless, we launched a coordinated effort in San Francisco with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the San Francisco VA Medical Center, the San Francisco Housing Authority, real estate developers, landlords, and other nonprofits like Swords to Plowshares.


We opened new housing sites and sent our outreach teams onto the streets to bring hundreds of veterans into supportive housing. We were up against tremendous odds.


Affordable housing is scarce. Our veteran population is typically older, earns less, and is more disabled than non-veterans of similar age and situation. Today, we have housed more than 40 percent of homeless veterans in San Francisco despite a 20 percent increase in the overall rate of homelessness during that time. Our work is far from done.


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