Archive for February, 2012

We often say at Volunteers of America that housing is the foundation for building a successful life. So many other problems are impossible to fix until someone has a safe, stable place to live. This is part of the reason why the mortgage crisis has had such a sharp and lasting effect on the economy.

All over the country, one of the first services Volunteers of America offers in many communities is housing. And it’s not just affordable apartments. Many of the homes we provide are specialized for specific groups of people, be they seniors, those with disabilities, or those transitioning from homelessness.

The homeless often represent the most visible need for housing. But unfortunately, homelessness is a much more complicated issue than simply lacking a home, and affects many people in many different ways. We know not all homeless people are the same. Some are individuals or families who have experienced an economic setback like the loss of a job or the foreclosure of a home. They may be forced to stay on a friend’s couch or move into transitional housing until their financial situation improves. Other people may suffer from longer-term homelessness rooted in addiction or mental illness.

We understand that homelessness is not a condition that is fixed simply by providing a home. Many people need housing paired with support over the long term to rebuild their lives and change the problems that led them to living on the streets in the first place. A lack of continued support is where so many efforts to combat homelessness fall short.

From a family motel in Denver to new transitional housing for veterans in inner-city Chicago to affordable apartments now under construction in Los Angeles, Volunteers of America provides shelter that meets a wide variety of needs for people in need of decent homes. We’re experts, not just when it comes to affordable housing, but also at a variety of services that help people and families grow stronger. We work to help not only the visible homeless living on the streets, but also the “invisible” homeless who may have temporary shelter but lack a more permanent, stable home.

Homelessness and a shortage of affordable housing is something that can be overcome as long as we fully understand the many needs people have when it comes to building stronger lives. With hundreds of properties nationwide housing more than 25,000 residents, I’m happy to say that we’re providing strong foundations for a growing number of people to thrive. For more information about Volunteers of America’s housing services and assistance for the homeless, please visit http://voa.org/Get-Help/National-Network-of-Services/Housing.aspx.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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