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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.

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