Community Mediation Services Steps Up to Assist with Veterans' Housing Needs

inset_alternate_Richards_06.jpgFrom helping veterans find respite in programs, to easing their hurdles in search of a permanent, stable home, Volunteers of America's Community Mediation Services is working on a pilot project with Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA).

The project seeks to provide conflict resolution services and education to veterans who receive Department of Housing and Urban Development - Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Vouchers, and to the landlords who rent to veterans.

The HUD-VASH program combines rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). This combination of housing and services provides homeless veterans with a way out of the temporary shelter system.

While many procedural impediments have been addressed, some veterans have personal hurdles that can keep them away from the HUD-VASH system. Injury and stress-related Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome can be debilitating when entering into the application process, when trying to find comfort in a new home, and while setting up services in a new system.

Elaine Bourne, Program Manager for Community Mediation Services (CMS) explains, "CMS is working on several fronts to identify areas of tension and find the access points for intervention as early as possible. This includes education on conflict and conflict resolution techniques with Maine State Housing Authority staff, including inspection staff, as well as landlords, and working through the case management structure where appropriate."

Veterans face challenges that those of us who have not been in the military cannot fully appreciate. Bourne continues, "A support system is in place, funds and vouchers are available. But some veterans are hesitant to ask for help, or if they ask and hit bumps in the road, they might decide it's not worth it."

"Our goal is to make sure that the veterans who need and want services have real access. And once veterans find permanent housing, we want to make sure they know we are here if conflicts arise with neighbors, landlords, family or other individuals such as employers who might impact their housing situation."