HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - United States Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Robert McDonald is in Honolulu hoping to get homeless veterans off city streets. It's all part of the Heroes Helping Heroes initiative to end veteran homelessness on Oahu.
The city estimates that there are 129 homeless veterans on the island. Of those 92 are approved for federal housing assistance. The problem is nobody seems able to find those vets a place to live.
"There's just a gap right now there's no connection," says Waianae property manager Richard Pascua.
Pascua and other Hawaii landlords say they want to help homeless veterans, but until now didn't know how. Thursday nearly one hundred landlords and property managers gathered at Honolulu Hale. They were invited by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and US Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald. The government leaders need places to house homeless vets.
"The challenge is finding enough units for these folks," said Caldwell.
Calvin Nunies knows the problem all too well. Until a year ago the Vietnam War era vet lived on Honolulu city streets.
"Landlords are scared. And you can't blame them they don't know what they're getting into," said Nunies.
With help from the city and VA, Nunies has had a roof over his head for more than a year. And now he's trying to encourage landlords to give his homeless veteran friends a chance.
"By getting veterans from renting from you is an untapped resource," said Nunies. "You looking at getting anywhere from 948 dollars to 14-hundred dollars."
With money from HUD, that's how much the V-A is willing to pay for homeless vets. Money that Pascua is happy to take.
"Currently the property we have out on the Waianae coast, we can certainly help with quite a bit of that," said Pascua
The only thing keeping Pascua and others from renting to vets are government regulations. But VA Secretary Robert McDonald says he won't let red tape get in the way.
"If we need to change the law then we'll go to Congress and change the law," stated McDonald.
Secretary McDonald says that properties can be approved by the VA almost immediately,so that there's not a long wait period. McDonald also wants to assure landlords that not only is the VA able to help vets financially, but the department will provide social workers to help with any other tenant-landlord issues that might arise.