Business & Economy

Los Angeles County wants landlords to rent to homeless vets

File: Workers from non-profit organizations talk with area landlords at a Department of Veterans Affairs event at UCLA. The VA wants more landlords to offer leases to homeless veterans with housing vouchers.
File: Workers from non-profit organizations talk with area landlords at a Department of Veterans Affairs event at UCLA. The VA wants more landlords to offer leases to homeless veterans with housing vouchers.
KPCC/John Ismay

The County of Los Angeles Housing Authority is working to eliminate fears a landlord may have when renting to a homeless veteran. Through the new Veteran Incentive Program, landlords can rest easier as they receive reliable payments from the Housing Authority, among other benefits. 

Emilio Salas, deputy executive director of the Housing Authority, said that the incentive program has attracted several landlords, with more than 200 showing up to a promotional event Thursday. The program is meant to address barriers vets currently face trying to find housing, Salas said.

"One of the things we want landlords to know is that they really hold the key to ending homelessness in L.A. County," Salas said. "What we want to do with this program is create a very seamless, easy-to-use, simple-to-understand process so that they don't feel that they're navigating through a maze of bureaucracy."

Salas said that one of the main concerns landlords have is the length of time a unit remains open before a referred veteran moves in. The incentive program works to solve that problem, with the Housing Authority paying one month's rent while the process of moving veterans in gets underway.

Another benefit to landlords in the program is expedited inspections, plus free minor repairs on their behalf, Salas said. Plus, a designated staff member will be assigned to them to address needs or concerns.

Salas said that the main need from landlords are one- and two-bedroom apartments. The only requirement for the landlords in eligible areas to participate is to provide units that are in good repair.

The Veteran Incentive Program's top priority at the moment, according to Salas, is to house the 400 veterans who already have vouchers from Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing — a program that assists qualifying vets with paying rent and transitioning out of homelessness.

"We know that you cannot simply put a homeless person in a home and then move on from there, and that's the beauty of the voucher program, is that it really provides ongoing case management for that veteran while they work through their issues," Salas said.

More funding is expected to go through in April, Salas said, and the incentive program is expected to house 700 veterans overall. Currently there are more than 44,000 homeless in L.A. County with about 30,000 unsheltered, and about 2,500 are veterans

To find out more about the Veteran Incentive Program, visit www.hacola.org.