Formerly Homeless Veteran Dreams of Business Ownership
Starting his own business seems possible now for Chris, a 62-year-old U.S. Air Force Veteran, because his homelessness is a thing of the past.
“It means a lot. This is very beneficial,” Chris said of the Federal Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher he received through the Housing Our Heroes initiative, which enabled him to move into a Grant Hill apartment in August 2016.
His urge to try new things led Chris to participate in the SDHC Achievement Academy’s Microenterprise Program, an eight-week training program for aspiring business owners.
The SDHC Achievement Academy helped Chris pursue one of his lifelong passions – photography – and develop a business plan to open his own photo gallery.
Today, Chris’s plans include looking for a home for his gallery — less than a year after he was simply looking for a home for himself.
Before he received his VASH voucher last year, Chris experienced homelessness “three or four times” since 2007 because of a bad economy, jobs that didn’t last, and an inability to find work.
“That’s the hardest part — being able to be presentable when you look for a job. It lowers your expectations and lowers the ability of jobs that you can go for,” said Chris, who served in the Air Force from 1975 to 1977, working as a graphic designer.
Today, he is working two jobs — in food service and at a senior center.
With his VASH voucher that pays the majority of his rent and help from the Housing Our Heroes initiative, Chris was able to find a two-bedroom apartment.
“It helps considerably on your rent,” he said of his voucher.