MReport August 2018

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28 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE percent in these metros, which has substantially outpaced the 1.6 percent increase in veterans' me- dian incomes from 2012 to 2016. "We understand that there are nearly 1.4 million veterans at risk of being homeless due to lack of support and substandard housing," Ed Buckley, President of Aspen Grove Solutions and VFSAC board member, said. "When you are considering housing for vets, particularly in the programs that we're trying to put together for providing homes, there are criteria that you would look for to house a veteran, such as homes that are in proximity to job opportunities, in a family situ- ation to schools. You'll be looking for homes that are in a low crime area, and you'd want the standard of the property itself to be in liv- able conditions, suitable for a fam- ily in modern times as you might call it—not '20s, '40s conditions." A Strategic Venture T he VFSAC has four goals, according to Buckley: house a minimum of 20 veterans and their families per year, provide funding for 36,000 backpacks for veterans' school-aged children each year, fundraise at least $5,000 a month in support of critical short-term needs of veterans, and establish a hire-a- veteran program. To achieve the first goal, the VFSAC works to secure the donation of suitable homes that meet the agreed-upon criteria for a home to be given to a vet. Available homes outside of that criteria could be sold off and the cash raised could be used to either renovate and rehabilitate homes or to buy suitable homes. For the backpack program, a team has been created to support the con- tinuation of the program's efforts, which has supplied over 300,000 backpacks since its inception. "In relation to the $5,000 per month, it is—with great enthusi- asm—that I can report that target is being met and has been met at this time," Buckley said. "We are on track to maintain the $5,000 per month critical short-term funding needs, and the work on the hire-a-vet program is continu- ing. So, each of these goals are being established as we progress." Three subcommittees of the VFSAC pursue these goals. The first supports Operation Homefront's 'Homes on the Homefront' program, which provides mortgage-free homes to honorably discharged veterans, and is reaching its 600th home awarded—about 56 to 60 million dollars in deeded equity. The second is support for the Critical Financial Assistance Program, which helps many military families through the "bumpy space," or a point in which these families experience a difficult time in meeting bill payments. This program assists in rent, mortgage, and utility payments—as well as home-repair costs, groceries, and car repairs—allowing these fami- lies to regain financial stability so that they can grow within their communities. The third subcom- mittee for the VFSAC is the Back to School Brigade. This program provides backpacks filled with supplies for children of these mili- tary families, a program which provided 42,000 backpacks to the school-aged children of veterans' and active duty servicemembers in 2017 alone. "Through the power of the mortgage industry and investor community, the VFSAC assists in meeting the housing needs of transitioning military families," Alan Jaffa, CEO of Safeguard and VFSAC board member, said. "Home donation is a key compo- nent of the organization, which aids Operation Homefront, a nationally recognized and trusted nonprofit organization that do- nates 92 percent of every dollar expended to veterans' programs. Through its diverse membership, VFSAC has the unique opportu- nity to bring together those who can source homes and those who can renovate homes to donate to qualifying veterans or veteran families through the Homefront program." Alliance Toward a Common Goal T he unique combination of industry professionals who have come together in this en- deavor drive the success of the VFSAC's mission and purpose. With a unifying goal that reach- es far beyond industry compe- tition and market operations, this group of leaders has been a driving force for change and progress within the organization and the spirit of the industry. "Getting the companies and their leaders on this board and the kind of folks we need who have a commitment and a passion that will reach out and bring others on have helped us grow the amount of money we can receive in donations and homes to give away," Bob Caruso, CEO of ServiceMac and VFSAC board member, said. "That's what we need. Those kinds of folks, to me, that's the biggest accomplish- ment—getting those kinds of strong leaders on board. That kind of group will help drive this thing to a higher level of success." When selecting the 14-member Representatives From Many Companies Across the Industry Make Up the 14-Member Board of the VFSAC: NICKALENE BADALAMENTI-KALAS President of Five Brothers Management FRANK BLAKE General Manager of Home Depot EDMOND BUCKLEY President of Aspen Grove Solutions KAREN BELLEZZA Business Strategy Advisor ROBERT CARUSO CEO of ServiceMac ED DELGADO Founder of VFSAC and President and CEO of The Five Star Institute ALI HARALSON EVP of

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