HUD raises veteran housing standard

LIHUE — Payment standards to accommodate Kauai veterans who are seeking affordable housing opportunities have risen slightly, according to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday.

The increase follows Sunday’s TGI report of homeless Army veteran David Sigala.

“Today’s news of increasing the housing voucher amount for Kauai veterans is an important step forward to honor our veterans by providing the benefits they have earned,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in a statement.

Upon request from Gabbard’s office and Kauai County, HUD officials approved a 10 percent increase of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing or HUD-VASH voucher from $993 to about $1,100 for a one-bedroom unit.

“I appreciate the quick action of the local and regional HUD office representatives … who worked with my team and Kauai County officials so we could offer immediate relief to Mr. Sigala and other veterans facing homelessness on the Garden Isle,” Gabbard said.

Sigala said he’s grateful for the increase, but it still presents him with problems.

“This is resolved, but it’s not resolved in a way that would be satisfactory to me because I’m still out here in the jungle looking for a place to live,” he said. “With the raise it’s about $1,100, but you’re still $200 under last year’s voucher.”

The 71-year-old veteran, who reached out to Gabbard, said it would have been reasonable to have last year’s voucher standard.

“How can I be satisfied when last year the payment standard was $1,298?” he said. “How can that satisfy me that the new payment standard is less than what I got in 2014? How can it satisfy the people on Kauai?”

Sigala’s housing voucher now allows him to rent a unit under $1,100. His portion of the unit would cost him 30 percent of his total income, which is just over $1,000.

“I have to be satisfied because that’s all they’re going to do. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s a 10 percent better chance for me getting a place to live,” he said. “If they had something spectacular like all veterans can get something like the same payment standard that we had last year, I would be applauding her.”

For units between $1,100 and $1,200, Sigala said his portion of the rent would would be 40 percent of his income.

“No one can explain how you can drop $300 from one year to another,” he said. “That’s just insane. I guess that’s just the world we live in now.”

Kauai County officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

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