Today's New York Times discussed a different sort of housing crisis that US troops returning from the battle field severely injured face. Service members with permanent disabilities struggle to live independent and dignified lives with the constraints of typical homes.
I checked out Homes For Our Troops, a group mentioned in the article. The nonprofit provides specially adapted homes for those wounded in combat, free of charge. For a quadriplegic vet, the group built a home that provides maximum independence, with a computer that adjusts lights, temperature, and doors. For one army specialist who lost both his legs in Iraq after a rocket blast, Homes For Our Troops is working to raise money, materials, and labor to build him a home with a kitchen that allows him to cook without burning his arms.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers permanent and disabled veterans up to $60,000 to renovate their homes. Home For Our Troops spends an average of $250,000 on each project. Five hundred vets from Iraq and Afghanistan qualify for the public grant, and so far 95 have been approved for some or all of the money, while 350 have not yet applied. Should the basic quality of life for disabled veterans be left to private charities, or covered by the government?