Homeless vets are focus of new initiative
The Santa Fe Association of Realtors, The Housing Trust, and the Santa Fe County Housing Authority are collaborating on a new program to facilitate home ownership for homeless veterans in Santa Fe. “The Santa Fe Association of Realtors is delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with these important local affordable housing entities to help provide home ownership for our treasured Veterans,” said Melissa Pippin-Carson,” the 2017 president of the Realtor group. “Our association believes this program is a vital homeownership tool that provides veterans with a centralized, affordable, and accessible method of purchasing homes as a benefit for their service to our nation.”
Amemorandum of understanding signed by the parties on July 11 details how each will work to make the Santa Fe Area Homes for Vets Program a success. The Housing Trust will provide applicants with homebuyer training, counseling, and VA-loan certifications. The Santa Fe Association of Realtors (SFAR) will provide up to $4,500 per applicant for closing costs, appraisals, inspections, titlework, utilities deposits, minor repairs, and appliances. And the County Housing Authority will provide family self-sufficiency training and will administer the HUD-Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program. HUD-VASH, a collaborative program between the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, com- bines the HUD housing-vouchers program with VA supportive services to help veterans who are homeless and their families find and sustain permanent housing.
“Our members donate for affordable housing,” Pippin-Carson said, “and we have an affordable housing kitty of $15,000. The money has to be spent on affordable housing, but we have the prerogative of choosing how the recipients are selected and what types of housing we support. There are somanyworthy recipients and that is so difficult. We were looking for beneficiaries we thought everyone could get behind, and what recipients are moreworthy than veterans? So we reached out to the Housing Authority. They deal with apartments more than home ownership. They try to locate homeless veterans and place them in apartments and sustainable living circumstances and help them get back on their feet. But they don’t have anything that goes into home ownership.” She added that not everyone wants the responsibility of a mortgage and its necessary monthly payments that are often higher than apartment rents, but she is hoping there will be some who are interested in home ownership.
Pippin-Carson said this is a homegrown initiative, not one based on a similar program elsewhere. “No, it’s just that veterans do so much. It’s such a sacrifice, and you want them to succeed. I think this is a win-win. The reason we capped it at $4,500 is that we have $15,000 and we don’t anticipate having more than three applicants come through this program in a year’s time, but if we have three success stories we might consider revising that number, do whatwe can to raisemore funds.”
For more information, call the Santa Fe County Housing Authority at 505-9923060.— PaulWeideman
Sharron Welsh, executive director of The Housing Trust, signs the memorandum; behind her are County Commissioner Robert Anaya; County Commissioner Henry Roybal; Paco Arguello, Santa Fe Association of Realtors executive vice president; Melissa Pippin-Carson, SFAR president; County Commissioner Anna Hansen; County Commissioner Anna T. Hamilton; County Commissioner Ed Moreno; Joseph Loewy, Santa Fe County Housing Authority board member; and Joseph Montoya, Santa Fe County Housing Authority executive director