Miguel Hernandez is the first homeless veteran to benefit from the Landlord Veteran Incentive Program (Landlord VIP), administered by the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA). Hernandez received keys to his apartment on March 1, just one week after the unit passed inspection and the landlord received incentive monies.
Hernandez proudly served four years in the United States Air Force, but like so many veterans, returned home and struggled to adapt to civilian life. He quickly found himself homeless, spending the last few years living in and out of hotel rooms in the Antelope Valley.
Even with the supportive services offered by People Assisting the Homeless’ (PATH) Veterans Connections Initiative, a partner of HACoLA, he struggled to find a home, encountering several landlords who were hesitant to rent to someone with a prior eviction.
The Landlord Veteran Incentive Program, which officially launched in January with the help of county funding, has been the solution Hernandez needed. It was designed to incentivize local LA County landlords with one month’s rental payment and an expedited process to get vetted veterans into an apartment who have secured a voucher through the Housing Authority.
“This program is very good,” said Ka Mei Koo, the first landlord to utilize the incentive. “The veterans have a case manager to help them, and the program helps with the deposit so owners don’t need to worry about damages. An added bonus is I get to help a veteran that has fought for our nation.”
Incentivizes include one month’s rental payment to hold vacant units, and an expedited process to get veterans who have secured a VASH voucher through HACoLA, into an apartment or house. Landlords receive Fair Market Rent (FMR) amounts for the corresponding bedroom size of the unit being held.
With 4,000-plus homeless veterans in Los Angeles County, the challenge to find them housing and a stable place to live has been ongoing for years. On top of that, the number of available units is less than three percent in LA, placing homeless veterans at an even greater disadvantage since they are often competing with a population that doesn’t have some of the issues that come with having formerly served in the military.
“We needed to entice landlords to rent to a veteran,” said Margarita Lares, director for the LA County Housing Authority. “We understand the risks, but we’re hoping this incentive will encourage others to give it a try.”
Interested veterans are encouraged to contact the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center at (310) 478-3711. Landlords wanting to learn more about the program and the opportunity to help local veterans should e-mail HACoLA at LandlordVIP@hacola.org, or call (626) 586-1572. More information is also available on the website at www.hacola.org.