Will You Help House Austin’s Homeless Veterans?

August 19, 2015 by Will Schnier

Special BuildingATX guest editorial by Will Schnier

Did you know that there are over 200 veterans living on the streets of Austin today? How does that make you feel? If you are like me, it’s an upsetting proposition to say the least. But we can help.

Housing Austin’s homeless veterans is something that I’m proud to support and I hope many BuildingATX.com readers feel the same way. Please join me in supporting Mayor Steve Adler’s campaign to house all of our homeless veterans by Veterans Day – November 11, 2015.

Veterans have put it all on the line for our freedoms all the while demonstrating courage, commitment and sacrifice in places and situations that are often indescribable. Yet over 200 of our very own Austin veterans find themselves struggling to find shelter, buy food, or hold a job.

As little as a $1 dollar makes a difference. Will you contribute $1?

It seems that Austin is the crown atop every Top 10 list published. Let us be the first major city to house each and every one of our veterans. That is a list we can all be proud to top. We’re a city experiencing great prosperity and we must use that bounty to lift up our most vulnerable.

When we provide housing for a homeless veteran, what we have is no longer a homeless veteran, but just a veteran. What does that do to change your impression of that individual’s situation? Does that little rhetorical change not reset the trajectory that is available to our struggling former service men and women?

Mayor Steve Adler has started the initiative to move all the homeless veterans in Austin into housing by Veterans Day, November 11, 2015.  This effort is being supported by primarily three groups: The various non-profits, including the Veterans Administration, (VA) that will provide both money and counselors, landlords to provide the housing, and the community to build funding that other non-profits do not have the resources available to provide.

Will you contribute $10?

With regard to the community contribution, several community leaders are building a non-profit fund – through the Austin Community Foundation – of approximately $150,000 to be used to supplement the funding provided by government agencies and the non-profits. These funds will be used to plug the gaps where we do not have a non-profit available to help.

Once such example is to guarantee landlords that should any damage be done to their property they can rely on this fund to repair the damage incurred over and above any ordinary wear and tear.

Will you contribute $25?

As you can imagine, the biggest obstacle to achieving this initiative is finding housing for our veterans.   With multifamily occupancy above 95% it is very hard to find landlords willing to take the compensation being offered by the VA and other non-profits.   They are being asked to house a veteran that does not have a job.   While the VA will directly deposit the rent for this veteran into the landlord’s bank no one is there to provide the landlord some backstop should the veteran damage the apartment.   The community provided funds will provide that support.

In addition, it may be necessary to provide clothing, some furniture and other items needed to move a veteran off the streets and into housing when they have nothing often times but the clothes on their back.   The community supported fund will be used when other non-profit dollars are available.

Will you contribute $50?

All donations are tax deductible and the donor will receive a letter documenting the donation directly from the Austin Community Foundation which is administering this fund.

This initiative has a clear objective, we need 200 units and $150,000 by November 11, 2015. Your help, at any contribution level, will have a huge positive impact on housing those that have given so much and now, for a multitude of reasons have found themselves homeless.

Donations may be mailed to:

Austin Community Foundation

“Mayor Adler’s Housing Heroes Fund”

4315 Guadalupe Street, Suite 300

Austin, TX   78751

Thank you for considering this very important cause. Together, we’ll house each of our veterans by Veterans Day. The clock is ticking.

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Written by Will Schnier

Will Schnier is the Chief Executive Officer of BIG RED DOG Engineering & Consulting. BIG RED DOG is an Engineering News Record Top 100 Design Firm, a Zweig Group Hot Firm, and an Austin Business Journal Fast 50 company. Will is well versed in the project review and development permitting process having worked closely and very successfully with neighborhood associations, City and County review staff, environmental groups, and public boards and councils. Will also serves on the Board of Directors for the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA).