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Homeless Family Saved from Streets of Stockton

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Army Veteran Jessica Taylor and her kids stand outside their new home.

Army Veteran Jessica Taylor and her kids stand outside their new home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

VA Program Saves More than Just Veterans

Thousands of homeless Veterans find shelter each year through a little-known program called the Housing and Urban Development - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH).  But for those whose lives were impacted by HUD-VASH vouchers -- it is a program they will never forget.

"I don’t know where I would be without the HUD-VASH program," said Army Veteran Jessica Taylor. "They helped me with my kids and provided everything from food to furniture."

Taylor joined the military in 2000, but she was soon fighting an alcohol addiction while pregnant with her first child. After discharging in Los Angeles, where she grew up, Taylor came to Northern California with her children to move near her husband's aunt. Life got the best of the family and after trying to overcome obstacles, Taylor was evicted from her apartment.

In searching for help in San Joaquin County, she found a shelter in Stockton. Her addiction and other issues caused her to be kicked out of various shelters, and she was ultimately forced to live in a tent with her three children.

"I had to tell my kids we were on a camping trip," said Taylor. "That night in the tent was the worst night of my life. It was incredibly hard on me and the kids."

While receiving help from St. Mary's Dining Room in Stockton, she met VA social worker Kate Butler who helped her get into the HUD-VASH program. In just a short time, Taylor was getting help with her addiction from VA and on the way to getting her first apartment since being evicted.

"I never had a support system like this except for in basic training," said Taylor. "It feels like you still have that closeness, and it's a good feeling."

HUD-VASH is a collaborative partnership between the Housing and Urban Development and VA with the goal of providing permanent housing to low-income Veterans. The program began in 1992 at 19 VA medical centers, helping nearly 600 Veterans find a place to live.  In 2010, more than 10,000 Veterans were helped. 

The goal of the program is to place Veterans in safe community housing with their families and assist the families in maintaining stable housing. A HUD-VASH case manager is assigned to every 25 Veterans in the program, working with the Veteran and the landlord throughout the rental process.

"I want people to know there are families, with kids, that need help. It's not just for single Veterans," said Taylor. "When you have kids, it's different. Thanks to HUD-VASH, I'm a success story."

For more information about the HUD-VASH program, please contact (650) 493-5000, ext. 27886.  If you are a landlord or property manager who is interested in renting to a HUD-VASH Veteran in your area, please contact Allison Ulrich by phone at 650-493-5000, ext. 27335, or by email.