Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 127

Veterans are disproportionately represented in Califor- nia’s homeless population, according to data from CAVSA, and they experience employment challenges greater than their peers. These challenges include translating their military- training and skills into a civilian workplace, overcoming stigma and stereotypes, and employers’ hesitation to hire veterans. Burt McChesney, executive director of the Veterans Housing Development Corporation, who also serves on the Veterans Resource Centers of America board, says not only do veterans represent a disproportionate share of the homeless population, but their acuity of need is greater. “Because of their PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, and military and VA-induced opiate addictions, it makes them a difficult population to serve, but one that is very im- portant, morally and socially for us to serve, because they went and served us,” McChesney says. Housing projects such as the Mather Veterans Village that are dedicated to former service men and women strug- gling with meeting life’s basic needs address the complex- ity of homelessness, a condition plagued with misunder- standing, stereotypes and finger pointing, according to McChesney. “They are a paycheck away, or the end of the patience of a family member, away from homelessness,” he says. “Hav- ing someone be patient enough to let you continue sleeping on their couch is not a good strategy for long term perma- nent housing.” “While we’re very proud of Mather Veterans Village, and looking to final completion, and its ability to serve veterans in the future, there’s still a big need,” McChesney says. The project is supported financially by the City of Ran- cho Cordova and many other local organizations, including the County of Sacramento, California Department of Hous- ing and Community Development, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, Home Depot Foundation, Sacra- mento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Sacramento Steps Forward, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban De- velopment, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA North- ern California Health Care System and Wells Fargo Bank — to name a few. Through advocacy work, veterans groups throughout the state helped secure money for the Veterans Village and other housing projects statewide through Proposition 41. “Mather Veterans Village follows a long line of hous- ing projects that agencies like the Veterans Resource Cen- comstocksmag.com | 2017 CAPITAL REGION CARES 127