Homeless Veteran Finds a House to Call Home Through the HUD-VASH Program
David Hamilton, a U.S. Military Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom was inspired to serve our country when the war on terrorism began around 2001. He wanted to join the fight against terrorism and help to defend democracy and the American way of life. He also had the opportunity to support the U.S. troops in Iraq as a civilian contractor and translator, providing linguistic and technical support across the region.
Some of the things he learned during his years of service are that the cost of freedom is high and ultimate sacrifices are necessary for the cause. He learned, life is short and fragile, and one cannot take anything for granted. He reminds all Veterans that they are commendable, and as they search for opportunities, they shouldn’t shy away from the resources available to them.
In late 2009, Mr. Hamilton lost his job and found himself facing some health challenges, making it difficult for him acquire gainful employment. He lived off his savings for a while, but when it ran out, he found himself homeless. First, he stayed with family and friends, but then ended up sleeping in his car and homeless shelters.
As a Veteran, he was receiving services from the VA hospitals. The VA was helping him address his health challenges, but also wanted to help him find a safe, decent and affordable place to live. His local VA counselor referred him to the Dallas Housing Authority (DHA). During HUD-VASH meetings, program administrators and other representatives encouraged veterans to consider another option for housing programs; such as the Family Self-Sufficiency Home Ownership Program. During one of his follow-up visits to DHA, he saw information relating to Family Self-Sufficiency Home Ownership program meetings.
He was curious about the program and attended a meeting to learn more. He applied for the program and was accepted. Today, he is a proud homeowner in Denton County.
His advice to fellow Veterans:
- If you believe you are ready to take on a new home, the financial responsibility that comes along with it and have managed to save enough money to cover the initial home closing costs, then definitely pursue the HUD-VASH home ownership program. While it may feel like an overwhelming process in the beginning, if you commit to it with the help of the housing authority representatives and your case manager, you will be glad you stayed the course to the end.
- Do your due diligence, and make sure you research and understand all of that is involved with purchasing a home on a very limited budget. Read and understand all the documents such as taxes and closing costs, and all the piled up legal papers that you will be required to sign. You don’t want to be surprised with expenses that you didn’t budget for. Have your real-estate agent help you negotiate with your homebuilder/owner.
- Do not just rely on your real estate agent to find you a home/loan, do your own search at the same time, and show him/her your findings. I surprised my case manager with the resources that I was able to find! Make sure you are getting the best home loan rates, fees, and home purchase price. It’s imperative that you understand all the details and are in the driver’s seat throughout the process – it’s your biggest investment in life, after all. Invest the time/energy necessary to achieve your goal and consider having an attorney to help you navigate all of the legal documents you are signing during closing.
- The process will feel daunting at times, but don’t be discouraged. When in doubt – ask for help! Call the bank, county, builders, the power/water companies and case manager. Your case manager can find the help you need to navigate through the obstacles. It does take time and patience! In the end you will be proud that you persevered through it all.
- Know that you can hire a contractor to build a house for you, buy a lot/ranch and build on it, buy a used house, or build a concrete house like the ones on the military bases. You even can build a storm shelter/bomb shelter and live in it, buy a condo, build a house in a tree, and more as long as you can get approved for it. Know your options!
Mr. Hamilton proudly completed the eighteen-month milestone on his path to homeownership. During this journey, he even inspired some of the housing authority’s case managers to take a hard look at their finances and consider owning a home rather than the everlasting renting saga!
Thank you, Mr. Hamilton for your service, for sharing your inspirational story, and providing sage advice.