The City of Austin says there are about 2,000 Austinites living homeless on the streets every night. More than 200 of these people are veterans.
“When you're pregnant your emotions are going left, right, up and down to the point you just want to break down and cry,” said Tenisha Hill, who once was homeless.
Those are the feelings that went through Hill's mind as she, her husband and four little boys lived in their car for a month. Robert Hill, a Navy veteran says he felt comfortable at his job and thought he would retire there.
“I was actually laid off of that job and then two weeks later I found out I was a diabetic,” said Hill.
Tenisha, who was pregnant during the time, relied on the love she has for her family to make it through.
“At least we were in the car as a family and knew we were safe and not being on the streets,” said Hill.
With the help of Mayor Steve Adler, a strong coalition of realtors, and non-profits, the family is living in a home. They will be just one of many families Austin plans to help, all before Veterans Day. The effort is titled, “Housing Heroes.”
“We estimate that there are about 200 homeless vets in our city and I would point out that some of them are women with children,” said Steve Adler, Mayor, City of Austin.
Landlords will have the rent money deposited each month into their accounts, leaving little burden to the veteran renters.
“Business leaders are in essence saying, that if the landlords will house the heroes, then the community will help provide a sort of guarantee,” said Adler.
Tenisha says her family has faced many let downs from some landlords during their journey
“In their mind it's not really a ‘Hey I want to help a veteran, it's more so l’ll help but I need money,’” said Hill.
The family says sometimes the faces of the homeless are often obscured by stereotypes.
“It's not because people are lazy, it's not because people aren't trying,” said Robert Hill.
Adler hopes this model can have a domino effect and attack the homeless problem as a whole in Austin.
“I always think to myself like what if my husband wasn't in the military? What if he weren’t a veteran to help us out? Where would we be”? said Tenisha Hill.
“It is our duty to honor and serve those who have served our country and us,” said Adler.
The family’s fourth son, is in California attending elementary school.
Mayor Adler says social service agencies will scope the prospective properties to make sure they are up to code before they refer a veteran.
Avesta Communities, Roscoe Properties, and Artisia Real Estate are some of the real estate companies who have already signed up to help the veterans.
For more information on housing veterans, visit here.