Below is a message from our Rapid Rehousing Coordinator, Lauren, on how she serves our veterans and how you can help her team:
My name is Lauren Mardis and I am a proud HVAF employee and new coordinator for the Rapid Re-Housing Team. I have been happily serving our veterans at HVAF for a little over three years as the Housing and Urban Development VA Supportive Housing (HUD/VASH) Navigator for our organization. Veterans who have a HUD/VASH voucher receive an ongoing Section 8 subsidy as well as clinical case management through Veterans Affairs for all of their housing and mental health/supportive service needs.
As the HUD/VASH Navigator, it was my responsibility to act as a community agent and supporter for every HUD/VASH veteran in the Indianapolis area. I did this by locating permanent housing options for each veteran and ensuring they were able to transition into independence successfully in their own home. Although our grant was small, I was able to house almost 200 veterans over the past 3 years and grow our agency’s connections with new and different housing opportunities in the community.
I am now transitioning into a coordinator position within our Rapid Re-Housing (RRH) team and while I am extremely excited about the growth of our RRH program and the new resources we have been given to assist veterans in new and impactful ways; the need for new housing opportunities and new landlords to work with is greater than ever. We all know that COVID-19 has been extremely difficult on the entire world, however within the Indianapolis homeless population this struggle has been dramatically amplified. More people than ever before are at risk of homelessness or are experiencing homelessness for the very first time. Not only this, but the current housing market in the Indianapolis area makes it extremely difficult to locate appropriate housing for our veterans in need. While all of this has been very difficult on the veterans we serve, here at HVAF we have not taken a single day off or gone completely remote even once. I am incredibly proud of the RRH team and our entire organization for all of the long hours and dedication that we have all put in over the last year and half. We have been in the office nonstop since the pandemic hit working hard to find promising opportunities for the veterans we serve!
Even though we’ve been working nonstop and I am encouraged every day by the progress we are making on the RRH team and as a community at large, finding permanent housing options for our veterans can be very difficult. Our HVAF supporters are the best out there. Your generosity and kindness keep us going each and every day. Many of you are often asking for different ways you can support our organization beyond donating to our food and clothing pantry, making a monetary donation, etc. Well, I have good news for you! There is another way that you or someone you know might be able to help directly impact the life of one of our nation’s veterans – you could have the ability to rent to a veteran in need. Many of you may not own property yourselves, but when you take the time to think about it, most of you have friends or family that probably do. I ask that you scan through your contacts, get out your rolodexes, or take some time to simply rack your brain and ask this question: “Do I know someone who owns property and might consider renting to a veteran?”
We are absolutely always in need of available housing units and new landlords to work with in the Indianapolis area and surrounding counties. As an agency and as social workers in the community, we want our veterans to not only find housing and move beyond their period of homelessness; but we want them to find a stable, permanent housing option that they can rely on to move forward into independency and success in the next stages of their life. If you have been wondering how you might be able to contribute to the mission of HVAF, then this could be an amazing chance for you to give back to our veterans! Please consider this potential opportunity and help us continue to work to end veteran homeless by providing hope, housing, and promoting self-sufficiency for our veterans and their families.
If you have a rental property that you would like to lease to a veteran, or if you have any questions about the programs we offer and the rental assistance we provide, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, Lauren Mardis, and I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
If you are interested in leasing to our veterans, click here to e-mail Lauren!