Being homeless was never part of John’s life plan. But in a world where 58,000 veterans are homeless and an additional 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness, his experience with affordable housing is not unique. Tidwell Group wanted to better understand the situation that so many people like John find themselves in, so they sat down with the 65-year-old veteran to learn about how affordable housing has impacted his life.
“Doctors won’t let me drive because I have leg seizures.” Unable to drive, the Vietnam Veteran has a difficult time with many of the simple day to day tasks that many of us take for granted. While his health challenges began long ago after being stationed in Fort Hood, he speaks with incredible pride as he describes his time serving the country he loves. Soldiers leaving the U.S. to serve in the Vietnam War were deployed out of the Fort Hood army base and soldiers returning from Vietnam were first sent to Fort Hood when they returned from war.. “If you were a soldier going to Vietnam, I was the one cooking your first steak before you left. If you were lucky enough to make it back from the war, I was the one making your steak when you came back home.”
“My brother was a door gunner in Nam,” John explained as he described his brother’s service in the war. Tasked with locating and shooting the enemy on the ground by firing at them from the door of a flying helicopter, John’s brother had his fair share of near misses. But unlike so many others, he was fortunate to make it back alive..
After the war, John pursued his culinary interests.. He went to college and was hired at several high-end restaurant establishments including the San Diego Yacht Club and the Mayport Country Club. He cooked for the rich and famous and was even featured on TV and in newspapers for his culinary skills.
Unfortunately, a career that began with incredible promise was derailed by health problems. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and leg seizures, in order to protect his own safety and the safety of others, John is now unable to drive. Being unable to drive and having serious health challenges makes it very difficult for John to find employment. Far from the beautiful beaches of southern California, he now lives in an Affordable Housing development in northeastern Alabama . . . but don’t think for a moment that John is complaining! “I’d be on the street without affordable housing!” “They treat me good, they keep the property up, the management is good. I’ve never seen a problem with the management, the buildings, or nothing.”
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is an important financing vehicle that facilitates the development of affordable housing. Without LIHTC, affordable housing for people like John would be scarce. In fact, the streets had been his back-up plan. Unfortunately, shortages in affordable housing are the reality. According to a 2017 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, “The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes”:
“More than 11.4 million extremely low-income (ELI) renter households in the U.S, whose income is no greater than 30% of their area median income (AMI) or the poverty guideline, face a shortage of 7.4 million affordable and available rental homes. Nationally, only 35 affordable homes are available for every 100 ELI renter households. A shortage exists in every state and major metropolitan area.”
With a recognized shortfall, residents of affordable housing are grateful for the housing support they receive and they make the best of their circumstances. Even though John cannot work, he remains a contributing member of his community. He gives back to his community by finding opportunities to lift the spirits of those less fortunate and improving the lives of his neighbors. With so many between the ages of 65-90 and with significant health challenges similar to his own, John makes it his mission to lift their spirits and encourage them to be physically active. He is constantly on the lookout for areas where the apartment’s management can provide improved social activities and better living accommodations. John speaks highly of his fellow residents. “They’re all spectacular!” When Tidwell Group asked about his social life with the elderly residents of the affordable community in which he lives, he said “I check on them. I try to get them to go outside and go on walks to keep them active.” Tidwell Group was so moved by his persistent, unwavering concern and service to his community. Not unlike his service to our country in the military, his unwavering support for his community is inspirational! “One day, I’ll get them out there when it’s spring time.”
In spite of being disabled and financially-disadvantaged, John insists on being a supportive member of his community. He serves as an inspiration and continual reminder of the self-fulfillment we all receive when we reach outside of ourselves and serve others. Tidwell Group is proud to serve a sector of the economy that does so much good for those whose need is so great.
Tidwell Group is rooted in serving the affordable housing community – not only in a professional consultant and advisory capacity, but also as a giver in support of members of the affordable housing family. Tidwell Group takes its philanthropic efforts seriously and has formed The Tidwell Group Impact Team. This specialized team of volunteers ensures that the firm’s efforts to give back are carried out as efficiently and as meaningfully as possible. This past year, with a tremendous sense of gratitude, members of the Tidwell Group team delivered meals, gifts, and assistance to those living in affordable housing communities. Most recently, members of the Tidwell Group team provided Christmas for 50 children with the Smile-A-Mile group in Birmingham, Alabama. By donating gift cards to Smile a Mile for bingo prizes for kids and parents confined in the hospital, Tidwell Group has followed John’s example of helping to lift the spirits of those they are in the fortunate position to affect. Seeing the joy on a little girl’s face as she unwrapped the dollhouse that she dreamt about for so long, brought as much magic to Tidwell Group’s spirit as it did to the spirit of that little girl. Being involved and taking pride in one’s community as John has, brings a sense of gratitude and self-fulfillment that is beyond measure.
Tidwell Group would like to extend an invitation to its constituents, clients, and contacts of the firm to reach out to local affordable housing communities in 2018 and discover ways where you can make a difference in the lives of the good people utilizing affordable housing. Without a doubt, John will be leading the way!
Tidwell Group is the fastest growing CPA firm in the country per the 2017 INSIDE Public Accounting National Benchmarking Report, and is a full-service accounting and consulting firm with expertise serving clients in all aspects of the real estate industry throughout the United States. Their experienced professionals serve all asset classes within the affordable housing, conventional real estate, and not-for-profit industries. Within the affordable housing industry our expertise ranges from low income housing tax credits, bond and conventional financing, HUD compliance and reporting and USDA-Rural Development compliance and reporting. Tidwell Group’s focus is developing long term client relationships through value driven results.
For more information on Tidwell Group, contact the firm on their website at www.TidwellGroup.com, on Twitter @TidwellGroupLLC, or by telephone at (866) 442-7090.
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