Mayor to find housing for all homeless veterans in Austin by 2016

Mayor Steve Adler originally promised to get veterans off the streets by Veteran's Day, but housing challenges forced him to push back his deadline to New Year's Day. The mayor's staff said this time he will meet that goal and 376 Austin veterans will have a place to call home by January 1.

"Any homeless veteran on our streets is too many," said Sly Majid, chief service officer for Mayor Adler.

Adler is committed to getting every homeless veteran in Austin into housing. It's a promise that hits close to home for the mayor.

"I think the first thing to recognize for Mayor Adler is that his father was a World War II veteran, partially disabled, so he's got a strong connection to veterans and military families," said Majid.

However, finding landlords willing to make rental properties available has been a challenge.

"Housing will continue to be our biggest challenge in a community like Austin, where it's booming. People like you and I have trouble finding an apartment that's both nice and affordable," Majid said.

Donations from the public will cover risk so landlords don't have to be concerned about unpaid rent and 13 different organizations will help with other issues that could arise, including mental health and substance abuse.

"Our goal is to first stabilize the veteran through housing and then, once we get them housed, it makes it easier to work on the various issues we need to be dealing with," Majid said.

Because the number of homeless veterans in Austin is constantly changing, the mayor's staff will continue to work with the Ending Community Homeless Coalition and other housing organizations to identify a surplus of rental units.

"As a result of this effort, we've created a system where anytime we find someone who's homeless within 90 days they'll be housed," said Majid.

Majid said there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the homeless veteran population.

"They're people from all different walks of life. They've served as far back as Vietnam to our most recent conflicts. They range from single men to families with young children living in their cars," Majid said.

"The key is that we as a community need to take care of our veterans," he added.

To find help with housing, list available housing units or make a donation please visit housingheroesaustin.org.

The average wait time from identification to housing homeless vets is 88 days. The goal is to get that down to 45 days.

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