Building Rural Communities

Aging Veterans in the United States Cover

Aging Veterans in the United States

A snapshot of older veterans and their social, economic, and housing characteristics.

To better understand and inform strategies and policies for America’s aging veterans, the Housing Assistance Council has published Aging Veterans in the United States an analysis of data describing the older veteran population.

The United States is on the cusp of an extensive and far-reaching demographic transformation as the senior population is expected to nearly double by 2050. This is similarly the case for the veteran segment of the population who make up about 9 percent of the U.S. population. A large and growing proportion of this veteran population is composed of those age 55 and over, “older” Americans. As this group grows older, it is important to consider their unique characteristics and issues, which include health problems and physical limitations associated with aging. A rapidly aging population will significantly impact nearly all aspects of the nation’s social, economic, and housing systems.

#R3Conf Social Wall – Vertical



For over 40 years, HAC has improved the housing conditions for the rural poor with an emphasis on the poorest of the poor in the most rural places. Since its modest beginnings with a $2 million War on Poverty grant in 1971, HAC has been able to successfully fund rural affordable housing, inform sound policy on rural housing programs, build capacity for local housing providers, and become the nation’s foremost source of information on rural housing.

Since the organization’s founding, the loan fund has been at the core of HAC’s overarching mission to improve housing conditions for the poorest of the poor in the most rural places. Central to these activities is a goal of building capacity in local communities to address affordable housing needs.

bandw house

In March 1972, the HAC loan committee approved its first 10 loans, totaling $647,476, to support affordable housing and infrastructure development opportunities in rural communities across the nation. HAC’s early loans were committed to a varied group of housing developers located in diverse, rural communities across the nation. Demonstrating HAC’s ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of the poorest of the poor, the loans supported the development of farmworker housing units in New York State and Texas, as well as newly created self-help housing projects from California to Maryland.

Ultimately, the loans led to the development and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 rental and homeownership units, as well as important infrastructure connections.

As the world of affordable housing finance has become more complex, HAC’s loan fund and its products have evolved to meet those needs.

Throughout the early 1980s, the landscape for affordable housing changed rapidly. An economic recession had shaken the housing market and interest rates had risen drastically. Combined with a rise in challenges for small family farmers, and the massive scaling back or elimination of many government antipoverty programs, the need for an affordable housing response, particularly affordable rental housing, became clear. In 1982 to meet the growing demand for affordable rental properties in the nation’s poorest communities, HAC created a subsidiary, Rural Housing Services, Inc., to develop affordable rental units in partnership with local organizations using tax credits.

As the world of affordable housing finance has become more complex, HAC’s loan fund and its products have evolved to meet those needs.

The 1990s brought a new framework for affordable housing – as direct federal funding for antipoverty efforts decreased, Community Development Financials Institutions, or CDFIs, increased in popularity. In 1996, HAC’s loan fund was transformed with the introduction of the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). SHOP is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), created by Congress, that funds site acquisition and infrastructure development for affordable housing units that will be created through a sweat equity model. Local self-help housing developers receive funding in the form of recoverable grants from HAC to complete these development activities. HAC also officially became a CDFI in 1996, and the size of the loan fund continued to increase.

Today, HAC continues to rise to new challenges. With the collapse of the housing markets in 2008 and the economic recession, home values fell to unexpected lows and foreclosure rates increased steadily. To respond to this crisis, HAC renewed its dedication to capacity building measures through organizational trainings, funding, and research activities.

woman-on-porch-oregonPhoto: CASA of Oregon

For over 45 years, HAC has been at the forefront of providing safe, secure, affordable housing in rural areas. HAC has, and will continue to, meet each new challenge head on to ensure that the poorest of the poor, in the most rural places receive attentionand support through our loan fund, training and technical assistance, and research and information divisions.

Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – Information and Resources

Building knowledge around affordable housing for rural veterans is critical to meeting the needs of that population. Assistance providers have very little in the way of models or information on program development or effective use of resources. To facilitate networking between rural organizations and to assist in the development of effective programs, HAC’s Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans Initiative provides the following information resources:

Veterans Data Central

An extensive data utility that provides detailed information on the situation of veterans down to the level of every U.S. county. Included are demographic and economic indicators, housing characteristics, VA housing and mortgage finance information, and veteran homelessness. The site provides approximately 420 veteran-specific data indicators and over 650,000 data points dedicated solely to information on veterans.

Supporting Veterans in Your State

A set of fact sheets — one for each state, the District of Columbia, and the US — provides details on the veterans’ population including proportion, prevalence by county, median income, poverty levels, unemployment rate, disability, median home value, housing problems, homelessness, and other factors.

HAC Publications

HAC Lists

Sign up to be a stakeholder in the veterans’ program to get periodic announcements about grants, events, and resources for rural veterans’ housing programs. Contact Shonterria Charleston at or call 202.842.8600 x 131.

Sign up for HAC News for current updates on other housing issues as well as government programs

Additional Resources

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA provides benefits, services, information and support to veterans of the U.S. Military services, including the veterans Home Loan Program.

HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)
HUD-VASH combines the Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance program with case management and clinical services from the VA.

USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program


The Home Depot Foundation:

Volunteers of America:

National Alliance to End Homelessness:

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans:

Is there a resource that we have not listed here that you would like to see? Email HAC to share your ideas.

Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – Grantees

Veterans of the United States military services put their lives in danger to protect their country and its residents. However, when they return home they are not always able to find housing and access to services in their communities. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, has created the Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) grant program to provide rural organizations with the financial resources to support their ability to meet or help meet the affordable housing needs of veterans in rural areas.

Highlights of 2017 Grant Activities included small grants for rural nonprofit organizations. HAC made the awards in summer 2017. AHRV grants support bricks-and-mortar projects that help veterans with home repair and rehab needs, support homeless veterans, or help veterans become homeowners, tap into available housing programs and secure affordable rental housing. Grantees are listed below.

2017 Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans – About the Grantees

  • Greenhouse Ministries, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee will use $30,000 to support rehabilitation of six veterans’ homes in rural Rutherford, Tennessee. For additional information about Greenhouse Ministries visit
  • NeighborWorks Umpqua, in Roseburg, Oregon will use $30,000 to perform critical repairs on three veteran-owned homes in Roseburg. For additional information about NeighborWorks Umpqua, visit
  • North East Community Action Corporaton (NECAC), in Bowling Green, Missouri, will utilize $30,000 to support repair and rehabilitation of 8 to 10 veteran homes throughout its 12-county service area. For additonal information about NECAC, visit
  • Northwest Regional Housing Authority, Harrison, Arkansas, will utilize $30,000 to perform homeowner repairs on 5 to 10 veteran homes throughout its three-county service area. For additional information about Northwest Regional Housing Authority, visit
  • O.C.E.A.N., Inc. in Toms River, New Jersey, will utilize $30,000 to support the developent of 10 single-family housing units for veterns in Tuckertown, New Jersey. For additional information about O.C.E.A.N., Inc., visit
  • Open Hands Outreach in Coolidge, Arizona, will utilize $14,225 to support the rehabilitation and expansion of a multi-tenant single-room occupancy (SRO) facility. For additional information about Open Hands Outreach, visit
  • The Vets Place, in Northfield, Vermont, will utilize $30,000 to complete whole facility window replacement and weatherization on a 26-unit SRO transitional facility for veterans. For additional information on The Vets Place, visit
  • Western Maine Community Action (WMCA) in East Wilton, Maine, will use $30,000 to support home reconstruction for one rural veteran in Franklin County. More information about WMCA can be found at
  • White Mountain Apache Housing Authority, in Whiteriver, Arizona, will use $30,000 to repair three veteran homes on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. For more information about White Mountain Apache Housing Authority visit

Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans

Rural Veterans and Local Nonprofits Receive Housing Support

Funded by The Home Depot Foundation

Washington, D.C., September 21, 2018 – Veterans and their families in eleven rural communities will have better lives, thanks to The Home Depot Foundation and the Housing Assistance Council. The Foundation is awarding grants totaling $306,500 to eleven local nonprofit housing associations around the country to build or preserve housing for veterans in rural America.

The funds are part of The Home Depot Foundation’s Veteran Housing Grants Program, which wascreated to support the development and repair of housing for veterans. Too many American veterans and their families face major housing challenges, aggravated by issues like unemployment, age and service-related disabilities. The Home Depot Foundation is dedicated to giving back to those who have already given so much for our country.

Read More…

homedepotfoundationlogoMade possible with the Generous Support of The Home Depot Foundation

Veterans Data Central

A Resource for Informing Strategies to Help Veterans

The Housing Assistance Council (HAC), in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation has created the Affordable Housing for Rural Veterans (AHRV) initiative to provide rural organizations with the technical assistance, training, information, and financial resources they need to improve their ability to serve veterans.

Veterans of the United States military services put their lives in danger to protect their country and its citizens. However, when they return home they are not always able to find housing and access to services in their communities.

Sponsored by:With Generous Support from JP Morgan Chase & Co.

In Partnership with The Home Depot Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Co, and The Wells Fargo Housing Foundation

Past Trainings

December 5, 2017: Affordable Housing Solutions for Rural Veterans: A Symposium – Recording

October 20, 2017: Veterans Aging Summit – Website

August 10, 2016: Overview on VA REO Property Preservation and Maintenance and Access Opportunities for Nonprofits – Materials: Presentation | Recording | Handbook

July 13, 2016: VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant Program – Materials: Presentation | Recording | Application

June 8, 2016: VA Housing Resources for Heroes: An In-depth Overview of the VA Home Loan Guaranty Benefit – Materials

May 18, 2016: Serving Our Aging Veterans: A Symposium – Materials

May 20, 2015: Serving Veterans in Rural America: A Symposium – Materials

May 6, 2015: Access to Health and Homeless Services for Rural Veterans – Materials

August 20, 2014: Building a Community for Veterans: Patriot Place, Tennessee – Materials

July 23, 2014: Canal Street Housing: Housing for Homeless Veterans – Materials

June 25, 2014: From Service to Shelter, Housing for Veterans in Rural America – Materials

April 22-23, 2014: Housing Seniors and Veterans in Rural America: Preservation, Development, & Services

April 9, 2014: Serving Veterans in Rural America – A Symposium – Summary and Materials

August 28-29, 2013: Housing Seniors and Veterans in Rural America: Preservation, Development and Services – Materials

Link to more Information and Resources

Link to Information about Initiative Grantees

Rural Housing Awards

Skip Jason Community Service Award
Cochran/Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing
Henry B. González Award

Skip Jason Community Service Award

Past Recipients of the Skip Jason Award

The Skip Jason Community Service Award acknowledges people whose efforts have improved the housing conditions of the rural poor in their communities.

The award acknowledges people who work “in the trenches” and usually go unrecognized outside their communities. The award was originally called the Community Service Award and was named for Robert “Skip” Jason, a long-time housing activist with considerable community experience, after he died in 1982 while employed as HAC’s Government Services Director.

SKIP JASON (1939-1982)

Robert Mayer (Skip) Jason, a former HAC employee and housing advocate, was committed to improving living conditions for the rural poor.

Skip was a native of Bluefield, West Virginia where he first learned about the challenges facing poor rural residents. In 1963, he became one of the first Peace Corp Volunteers to be sent to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Upon his return to the United States, he worked for community action agencies in Indiana, West Virginia, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. In 1974, he helped to set up Buffalo Housing, Inc. in southern West Virginia, a nonprofit organization established to help victims of the Buffalo Creek flood disaster.

Skip first joined HAC in its Atlanta office. In 1978, he moved to HAC’s Government Services Division in Washington, D.C. As a HAC employee, he worked on the Community Development Block Grant program, which included a set-aside for small cities and rural communities. Skip was also instrumental in developing the Farmers Home Administration’s Homeownership Assistance Program which, although never funded, resulted in a Congress that was more supportive and more aware of rural housing issues.

Cochran/Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing

Past Recipients of the Cochran/Collings Award

The Cochran/Collings Award for Distinguished Service in Housing honors individuals who have provided outstanding and enduring service, with national impact, for the betterment of housing conditions for the rural poor.

The award is named for two men who dedicated their careers to improving housing for rural Americans.

CLAY COCHRAN (1915-1982)

Clay L. Cochran was a fierce housing advocate who has often been credited as the founder of the U.S. rural housing movement. Clay, a fiery commentator on housing and basic needs, strongly believed that the federal government must not shirk its responsibility of providing basic shelter for low-income rural people. He also believed that the people, given the power to govern themselves, had the capacity to “create a society where there is less human anguish than yesterday.”

Some of his many accomplishments were to organize the Rural Housing Alliance, Rural America, the National Rural Housing Coalition, and the International Self-Help Housing Association. He claimed that his enthusiasm for decent housing resulted from a winter during his teens when his family lost its farm and lived out the coldest months in a tent on the West Texas plains.

ART COLLINGS (1928-2010)

Arthur M. (Art) Collings, Jr. began working in rural housing in 1955. He started in New Jersey as an assistant county supervisor at the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), quickly moving up to county supervisor and then to a variety of other positions in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

Beginning in 1972, the year in which the newly created Housing Assistance Council began hiring staff, Art’s jobs at FmHA alternated with periods at HAC. He served as special assistant to FmHA Administrator Gordon Cavanaugh from 1977 to 1980. From 1986 until his reluctant retirement at the end of 2004, Art served as HAC’s senior housing specialist.

Gordon Cavanaugh, HAC’s first executive director, once explained that he hired Art because he was told Art was the most liberal staffer at FmHA. “He taught the rest of us everything we knew,” said Cavanaugh. “Arthur was just extraordinarily dedicated, well informed, and a good-humored gentleman.”

Art wrote dozens of publications about USDA’s rural housing programs, from manuals on how to use them to analyses of how they could be improved. He authored a number of amendments to these programs, advised people all over the country on their use, and conducted countless training sessions.

Art’s dedication to improving housing conditions for low-income rural Americans was unmatched. His feistiness and humor, added to his extensive knowledge of USDA’s rural housing programs, made him unique, sometimes frustrating to work with, and well-loved around the country.

Henry B. González Award

Past Recipients of the Henry B. González Award

The Henry B. González Award recognizes individuals who have contributed to the improvement of housing conditions for low-income rural Americans through elected office.


The award is named for Rep. Henry B. González, who represented the 20th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 until ill health forced him to retire in 1998.

Beginning in 1981, he chaired first the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development and eventually the full Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs (now the Financial Services Committee). In these powerful positions he championed numerous bills to improve housing conditions for people in both urban and rural areas. Rep. Gonzalez passed away in 2000.

Southwest Regional Office

The Southwest Regional Office primarily provides Technical Assistance and Training in the states of: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Southwest Office
P.O. Box 315
San Miguel, NM 88058

Tel.:(505) 883-1003

Gene Gonzales, Director
Anselmo Telles, Housing Development Specialist

Southeast Regional Office

Southeast Regional Office: Providing Technical Assistance and Training to the Organizations which Help the Poorest of the Poor

Southeast Regional Office
55 Marietta St
Suite 1350
Atlanta, GA 30303
Tel.: 404-892-4824
Fax: 404-892-1204

The Southeast Regional Office primarily provides Technical Assistance and Training in the states of: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Staff List

Shonterria Charleston, Training and Technical Assistance DirectorChristina Adeshakin, Housing Specialist
Kelly Cooney, Housing Specialist