VA’s Enhanced-Use Lease program provides once-homeless Veterans with a new lease on life


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When U.S. Navy Veteran Judy Ganino was homeless, she often went days or weeks without having a conversation or any personal interactions.

Now, her days are filled with deep discussion and lively banter with neighbors at the Upper Post Veterans Community in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is where Ganino lives today, alongside some 57 Veteran residents in an apartment complex made possible by VA’s Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) program, operated by the Office of Asset Enterprise Management.

“I’m just very amazed that I talk to people every day,” Ganino said. “It’s just so amazing and so wonderful.”

Giving property a greater purpose

Ganino is just one Veteran among many being touched by the EUL program, a “portfolio management tool” that VA deploys to revitalize underused VA properties—and change the lives of thousands of formerly homeless Veterans.

The EUL program enables VA to solve two issues: affordable, permanent housing for homeless Veterans and their families and the surplus of idle or underused VA property in communities across the United States.

Image of a VA-leased apartment buildingThe EUL program allows VA to lease its property to the private sector for approved supportive housing and related projects for Veterans who do not have safe, stable housing. Ganino’s apartment building, for instance, sits on a previously vacant VA site that predates even the incorporation of the state of Minnesota.

EUL projects must provide Veterans with a well-rounded and integrated experience, and so in addition to supportive housing, VA’s EUL partners often offer Veterans services such as job training, financial management, haircuts, computer and laundry facilities, fitness centers and more. Veterans and their families are prioritized for EUL developments, which are also convenient to VA health care facilities.

So far, through the EUL program over 2,200 units of housing for homeless Veterans, Veterans at-risk of homeless, and their families have been constructed nationwide and an additional 500 units are under construction to serve Veterans and their families within the next one to two years. Moreover, we continue working to develop more than 1,500 additional units that in the future will serve Veterans and their families.

Finding camaraderie

In addition to the services and amenities available through EUL housing, Veterans benefit from regular opportunities to interact with each other. Upper Post resident Anthony Williams notes that the camaraderie among residents reminds him of his time in the Navy, when everyone worked together.

Similarly, Earl Burl, a formerly homeless Veteran and peer support specialist at Freedom’s Path Apartments on the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Medical Center campus near Chicago, says Veteran residents help each other.

Emanuel Yates headshot

Yates

“It is so valuable when they’re interacting with one another and learning about different programs that VA might offer,” Burl says, noting that “when [they] get [advice] from a Vet, from a peer, they tend to believe it.”

“Living here—this is a blessing,” adds Marine Corps Veteran Emanuel Yates, who lives at Freedom’s Path. “You know, it’s more than just about having somewhere to sleep,” he explains in the video. “It’s about having somewhere where I feel safe; it’s about having somewhere where I feel supported; it’s about being a part of something.”

Learn more


James SullivanJames M. Sullivan is director of VA’s Office of Asset Enterprise Management. He oversees VA’s capital asset portfolio and ensures that capital investments fully support the agency mission by effectively managing VA’s inventory, making housing available for homeless Veterans through Enhanced-Use Leases, greening VA’s portfolio, making prudent investments, measuring performance, and disposing of or reusing assets that are no longer needed.

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VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. ROBERT FLORES    

    A long time ago n two years ago I recommended a lease to own program for vets n their families who suffered during the recession period during the early 2000-2007. The VA lost my file twice and I ended up with my family living out of my car. Our girls would call their back seats their rooms. After I lost their Mom to cancer n I had to wait for my benefits I find no program to help vets with second families. For me I would gladly agree to the house payment be paid to a lender directly. Right now a small $16000 adjustment allowed us to try a lease option, so we stand to lose our deposit due to us not being able to find financing or use our VA benefit.
    God bless

  2. David Abraham Febles    

    Still trying to save enough money to get out of this motel and and get stable home for my family. Was homeless back in 2005 -2007. Separated from my wife. My son was taken away from her and I had to work so hard to get him back. He is 15 now and he is obviously affected by it due to his behavior lately. I really believe he needs a little bit more sense of security. Struggling to rebuild my sign business. Paying $75.00 a day. Love I’m Miami area.

  3. Wildgoose    

    The VA does need to see the complete circle instead of a part of the circle. The powerlessness is still as strong and overwhelming. Guy, make a landing and make yourself seen in person, stick and stay, exercise willingness too with some humble sauce on top.

  4. Peter Colby    

    Over the past few years I have spoken very harshly about our Veterans Administration. Today, I want to acknowledge that it appears the VA is now moving in a positive direction. Their journey will continue for sometime, but I salute the strides they continue to make.

  5. Stephen L. Southard    

    What is available in the state of Alabama around Huntsville, Alabama? I am not Homeless, but I live in a 60-70 year old 1 bedroom mobile Home( 8 x 30) of which cost me $300 /month and other living expenses eat up what I make on SSDI disability of $1000 per month. My credit is bad so I can’t even look at buying a foreclosure home . What can you do for me? Also, I have a rescue dog that is my companion service dog and I DON’T want to give her up.

  6. steven chung    

    Find this helpful to see it work for the others – I LOST MY HOME due to USSERA – I lived in my CAR, In Tents, Worked out of state – try to show dignity and still losing – for serving as a reservist, guardsman, and active – wow – why don’t you have real FRESH START Program to get a home – for also the families and kids, avoid the bank sharks – and truly help to find the home of choice and prevent lost!

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