Toward sustainable housing solutions for America's homeless veterans
By Natalie Abatemarco, Managing Director, Citi Community Development September 25, 2012 09:00 AM
I recently had the opportunity to join a coalition of committed public, private and nonprofit sector leaders at the 2012 Veteran Access to Housing Summit, where we shared ideas about how to end veteran homelessness. Hosted by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), this gathering was supported by Citi as a joint effort of our Citi Salutes initiative and Citi Community Development.
Safe, sustainable and affordable housing is one of the many challenges facing those who have served our nation - whether they returned home decades ago or in recent months as a result of the continued drawdown of troops. Statistics drawn from NCHV reports paint a stark picture:
- Nearly one in seven homeless adults is a veteran.
- About 145,000 veterans experience homelessness at some point during the year, and approximately 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness.
- There is a critical need for 90,000 units of permanent housing for homeless and low-income veterans.
Over the last year, housing organizations, veterans service organizations and local nonprofits alike have been looking at creative solutions. One idea shows real promise for both homeless veterans and the communities where they live: accessing and rehabilitating vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties to provide affordable homes for former service members and their families.
Joining me on a panel focused on this topic was Danny Gardner, Chief Operating Officer of National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST). Citi has worked with NCST since its inception in 2009 to help communities access solutions to rebuild strong and stable neighborhoods. Citi shares some key priorities that NCST has identified: ensure communities have better access to foreclosed properties, facilitate easier transactions, and make resources available to guarantee safe, quality homes for veterans who need them most.
With so many challenges to address, and so many organizations vested in this mission, tremendous interest is met with varying degrees of capacity and ability. That's why Citi is playing an active role in finding and connecting partners that have the right housing capabilities with those that have experience serving the unique needs of this population.
To this end, Citi is proud to embark on a new collaboration with a long-term partner, LISC, and their affiliate, the National Equity Fund, which was recently honored by NCHV with its 2012 Outstanding Corporate Partner award. Our joint effort will leverage their proven ability to convene leading organizations, identify scalable solutions and get capital moving toward a long-range permanent housing strategy for homeless veterans and their families.