Finding affordable housing especially difficult for homeless veterans

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 is committed to helping build a Better Bay Area. All week long we've been examining the high rents and low inventory that make it difficult for many to find affordable housing. The problem is especially acute among the Bay Area's homeless veterans.

The good news is that Army veteran Eric Taylor won't be living in his rental car this week. Instead, the veteran's support group Swords to Plowshares is putting him up in a Sunnyvale motel for one week.

"I can see why some people would easily give up, just to have to go through this," he said.

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Spread out on his bed are dozens of applications, letters and responses from agencies he's contacted for housing help.

"Nobody expects to be in this situation, but it happens," he said.

Taylor is disabled from a training injury that broke his lower back in the 1980s. He lived in Emeryville for 14 years until his landlord died and he was forced out.

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He then moved to Hayward -- and lived there for nine years -- until the owner turned it into an Air BNB. Since April, Taylor has shuttled between motels and his car, until it broke down. Since then, he's been renting a car to get to physical therapy appointments. In fact, last month he charged $8,000 to his credit card for car rental, motel stays, gas, meals and bills.

"People will say 'oh thank you for your service' but give some vets a chance."

He does have a housing voucher from the Veteran's Affairs Support Housing (VASH) program. It's similar to Section 8 -- and that's the problem.

We asked "How much luck have you had with your voucher?"

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"Nothing yet," he responded.

In fact, it's so tough to find landlords who will rent to homeless vets that Santa Clara county has set up a cash incentive program for landlords who will take them in.

"We'll give up to a $1,500 incentive if you are willing to sign a year's leas, and then for any subsequent unit you make available, you get another $500 additional unit bonus," according to Michelle Covert with Santa Clara County Supportive Housing.

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And they do it with an annual $1.6 million budget.

Meantime, Taylor is applying to every program that he can think of and hoping he hears something before his motel voucher runs out next week.

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