DC Homeless Veteran Hopes to Find Home Before Thanksgiving

Alex Forrest just wants to have "somewhere clean and decent that I can call my own home"

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is working to end homelessness among veterans, but it can be tough to match veterans who have rent vouchers with landlords who will rent to them.

There are 209 veterans in the Washington, D.C. area who have the vouchers but have not been able to find apartments.

Navy veteran Alex Forrest is just one person in our area who is trying to make that transition. He said he returned from the Vietnam War with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, which led to substance abuse. He lives and works at Central Union Mission in Northwest D.C. and said he could use a helping hand.

"I just want my country to know, I shouldn't have to be homeless," he said.

About 10 percent of the homeless people served by Central Union Mission served in the military.

"We'll have like 17 veterans at the Mission each night, and that's 17 too many," executive director David Treadwell said.

The VA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide eligible veterans with vouchers to pay rent.

"I'll be getting an apartment fully furnished and I'm just, I'm excited about it," Forrest said. "I never had no one to help me like I'm being helped."

He hopes to be in his own apartment by Thanksgiving. His requests are simple: "Not hearing a lot of sirens. Not hearing a lot of gunshots. Just to have somewhere clean and decent that I can call my own home."

The D.C. Department of Human Services wants landlords to know the VA's program is a good deal for them, as well as for homeless vets.

"Some folks with vouchers come with rent money but also supportive services that help them maintain stable housing while they're there," a representative said.

Forrest said having his own home will change his life.

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