Dressed in classic Hollywood black and white, John English is the picture of perfection. The tribute artist, who performs with the same style, grace and ease as ol’ blue eyes himself, has earned performances throughout the Northwest. At lounges, music venues, weddings, special events, even Portland International Airport. The 60-year-old performer, father and veteran makes it look easy but behind his success is a hard-fought battle. After a series of unfortunate events last year, English and his son were homeless.
Today, the family has a spacious two bedroom apartment in Southwest Portland. They were able to find temporary housing and eventually a permanent home with access to vouchers, funding and help from the many community partners dedicated to a Home for Everyone. For English, the final piece of the puzzle was a benevolent landlord and property manager willing to give him a shot at a vacant rental, despite challenges on his rental application.
“We’ve got an unprecedented amount of resources and agencies working to support this effort, including a commitment that no expenses will be left unpaid and a 24-hour response team available to landlords who are willing to work with our homeless veterans,” explained Home for Everyone Initiative Director Marc Jolin. “Our biggest challenge is finding units for veterans.”
A low-vacancy, high-demand rental market is one of the challenges in an effort to house local homeless veterans by 2016. The effort coincides with a federal initiative to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of the year. In Multnomah County, an estimated 690 homeless veterans need housing which translates to two veterans per day. So far, an estimated 300 veterans have been housed but continued support from the rental market community is necessary to fulfill the promise.
“We’re asking landlords to not look at the past but look at where that veteran is headed and what that veteran is bringing and importantly what are the support services that veteran has," says Jolin. "Although a veteran might not look good on paper, they can actually be very successful tenant because if given the opportunity to move in they have the support and resources of the community behind them.”
Please share John English’s story and help house other homeless veterans in our community by giving them a first shot at a vacant rental.
“Permanent housing is not just a dream it’s a reality, you can make that reality by tapping into the resources.” -- John English, Sinatra tribute artist and formerly homeless veteran.