published Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Veterans housing available in October

Douglas House poses for portraits outside the Community Kitchen on East 11th Street on Tuesday morning.
Douglas House poses for portraits outside the Community Kitchen on East 11th Street on Tuesday morning.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
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5900 Shaw Avenue
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It gets hot living in a tent in the summer and it's hard to stay clean, said Douglas House.

The Gulf War veteran served from 1988 to 1994. He said he was a U.S. Navy Seal who worked on underwater demolition and was a part of an anti-terrorist task force. He's been homeless in Chattanooga for seven months, he said.

But he may be among eight veterans to receive temporary housing this year.

"I can't take the heat any more," said House. "I feel like I'm losing 30 pounds a night [in sweat]."

House, 44, is among some 55 homeless veterans in Chattanooga who may qualify to live in an eight-bed transitional home when it opens in late October. He's now living in a tent in a wooded area near downtown Chattanooga.

The house, located in the 5900 block of Shaw Avenue near the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, will be the first Veterans Administration Transitional Housing Program in the city, said Dan Heim, health care for homeless veterans program coordinator with the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.

"The goal is to get veterans into permanent housing," said Heim. "This provides an interim period where they can get their disability check in place if needed, get employment counseling. Drug and alcohol and financial counseling will also be offered."

All local veterans are eligible, except for those who received a dishonorable discharge.

The model in Chattanooga will be based on veteran transition housing that has operated in Nashville for at least five years, said Heim. The house is provided through a partnership with the Veterans Administration office and Buffalo Valley Inc.

Buffalo Valley, based in Hohenwald, Tenn., provides housing for vets while the VA will provide services in those homes, said Heim. The VA will pay Buffalo Valley a fee for each veteran admitted.

More information

For more information about transitional veteran housing in Chattanooga, call Beth Ratledge at 893-6500, ext. 27058.

Veterans may be charged up to 30 percent of their income as rent for the housing, he said, and men may live in the house for up to two years.

Buffalo Valley Executive Director Jerry Risner said he is a veteran and considers it a privilege to help other veterans.

"I think of this as an honor to serve my federal veterans," Risner said. "We can never do too much serve our veterans who have served us so well."

Veterans interested in housing may contact the local VA Outpatient Clinic or call outreach coordinator Beth Ratledge at the clinic.

House said he's been so busy trying to find a job that he hasn't looked for a house, but the VA house is a badly needed shelter for some veterans. Anything beats living in a tent, House said.

"There's a need for housing for everybody, not just veterans," he said. "A lot of people are living in tents."

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about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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328Kwebsite said...

They crashed the economy while we were gone. Somehow, Americans also got obese. 20+ years of fraud and deception and direct, willful lying about the definition of assets and liabilities: it all contributed to this.

A failure on the part of Representative Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress created a situation where they refused to finance housing projects; so, they were billed as "neighborhood organizations" and financed that way. Of course, the liability piled up quickly. To avoid financial regulatory controls based on the concept of personal interest, the contracts were chopped up into pieces so small and so far flung that no one could comprehend the truth of their value. That was later our undoing.

Now we again need housing projects for homeless veterans. It has been difficult to impossible over the past few years to find employment of any kind. Yet, we see Tennessee State legislators contributing to this situation because they set up laws and operated them for the past ten years in a way that does everything as cheap as possible. That is, if it's cheaper to do nothing, they often do that, too. They, too, protect themselves from the liability of the truth in decision making with a process not too far removed from credit default swaps; they tell the public they care, they tell everyone they care; they create enough technical snags to avoid actually distributing any real equity.

Out hearts go out to these brothers in arms.

August 10, 2011 at 7:52 a.m.
ceeweed said...

328Kwebsite, well said!... Lip service about caring means little when it is not accompanied by action. Our government should be forever indebted to all who have served. Unemployment of our veterans of our most recent wars is around 15%. Politicians, no more lip service, no more photo ops with our troops, no more excursions to war zones and then exclaiming your deep understanding of the sacrifices our troops and their families are making, NO MORE!...not when you have neglected our veterans in your own districts! Homeless veterans are not unique to Chattanooga, they are everywhere. Cut out the games on both sides of the aisle! I don't care if you ride a donkey or an elephant, a HACK is a HACK is a HACK!!!

August 10, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.
PaulWilson said...

It's about time.

August 10, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.
LibDem said...

Politicians could house veterans in their campaign headquarters when they're not campaigning...No, wait. That never happens.

August 10, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.
HannaBeckman said...

Douglas House states he was a US NAVY SEAL from 1988 to 1994. Ok. I will get online to usnavyseals.com, along with the official site to verify SEAL service...www.veriseal.org, and just see if he was a USN SEAL. Will get back to the TimesFree Press by the weekend. Claiming service when you did not is a Federal felony!

August 10, 2011 at 6:08 p.m.
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