SF State released applications Tuesday for designated off-campus housing that will carve out space for student veterans, according University officials.
For the first time, the University offered a community dedicated to veterans, which will launch with residential opportunities for six qualified applicants, located at University Park North, Vice President of University Communications Ellen Griffin said.
Among the issues faced by student veterans is landlords who are unfamiliar with the benefits veterans receive when attending school. Veterans are only eligible to receive their Basic Allowance for Housing awarded through the GI Bill when they are enrolled in school, and only receive payments when school is in session, according to Veterans Certifying Specialist Ben Yang at SF State Veteran Services.
“If a veteran is coming to school for the first time and looking for housing, they have no proof of income to show the realtors since they have never received any type of payments,” Yang said.
Many veterans have faced difficulties in securing housing due to their inability to provide the proof of income required by most rental agreements, Yang said. He added that student housing does not require proof of income, but the application process is expensive and highly competitive.
On-campus housing is unavailable to students that are older than 25 years old, which excludes a large portion of the nearly 400 student veterans at SF State, according to Yang.
An SF State alum and U.S. Navy veteran, Yang welcomed the new veteran housing option, but raised questions about its implementation.
“I know that those houses are pretty expensive and most places want a first and last month rent for security deposits just to hold the location before moving in,” Yang said. “I would like to know if they are willing to work with the veterans and see if other arrangements can be made just in case they can’t provide that payment when signing.”
Yang also said he was interested in whether the University will offer veterans lower rates.
The veteran community housing is designed to aid the transition from military to university life and provides veterans a chance to live with others who have served, according to the Residential Life webpage.
The new system intends to fill the housing gap for veterans like JP Sacramento, who struggled to find a place after he served four years in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Iraq.
Sacramento, an electrical engineering major at SF State, said he found himself in a situation familiar to many student veterans. Although he was set to receive the BAH benefit issued through his GI Bill, he could not use it as proof of income to secure an apartment until those funds were issued, Sacramento said.
Sacramento said he had been aware of the necessity to produce proof of income, but did not realize that the enormity of the issue until later.
“The only way I could have been more prepared (for the transition) is by placing work before education, Sacramento said. “However, this route would have been of further detriment to the transfer process.” Sacramento said.
Upon transferring to SF State, veteran Stephanie Vazquez, an international business major who does work-study at the VETS Corner on campus, had hoped to live on-campus but discovered she exceeded the age cap and settled in UPN instead. Vazquez received eviction letters over several months in Spring of 2013 because rent is due at the beginning of each month, but BAH benefits are not issued until the end.
Vazquez said she decided to make the most of living in UPN by getting involved with the Residence Hall Association, a student organization that strives for enhancing the campus housing experience.
Two years ago, Vazquez approached Johana Duarte, the Residential Life Project Coordinator at SF State about securing a veteran-themed community, much like the Greek Floor and Rainbow Floor theme communities.
“It was in a few of the RHA meetings that I had brought up the idea of having veteran housing,” Vazquez said. “Johana had mentioned that it was a great idea and that it was already a work in progress.”
Yang said he thinks veteran students will be eager to apply.
“No one in the veteran population knows about this and there are a lot of vets that are already willing to sign up,” Yang said.