For more than three decades, Access Housing and the Southeast Veterans Service Center (SEVSC) has supported the needs of those who have put their lives on the line to defend freedom. And on Nov. 24, 50 families will be feasting on Turkey and all of the trimmings thanks to the leader of a veterans organization.
The Buffalo Soldiers donate turkeys to the Southeast Veterans Center. (Photo by Hamil Harris)
“I am just happy to make someone else happy especially to those who sacrifice so much for this country,” said Greg Crawford, executive director of Access Housing. “Everybody deserves a place to live. No one should live outside.”
Access Housing provides temporary and permanent housing for veterans as well as other critical services needed to transition them from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
The concept of a veterans center started in the 1970s, after Crawford’s father, former D.C. Councilmember H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7), received a call about a group of homeless men who had created an encampment under a bridge near Georgetown.
“We shared a meal of fried chicken and hot coffee that had been prepared on a hot plate,” said Crawford who reported his findings to then Mayor Marion S. Barry.
The experience was catalyst for the founding of Access Housing and earlier this week Crawford said unfortunately homeless people are still living under the same bridge.
But help might be coming in the future from an unlikely source. Crawford, who once served in the Nixon and Ford Administrations, said District community activist Robert Woodson is one of several candidates to become the next U.S. secretary of House and Urban Development.
“He is good man who will make a difference,” said Crawford, who highlighted the fact that Woodson has been working with House speaker Paul Ryan and leaders in Southeast to address homeless issues.
Regardless of the future there are many testimonies from veterans that Access Housing has made a difference in their lives. “After two tours in Afghanistan I retired from the US Marine Corps. I thought I was fine but the memories of what I’d witnessed there really impacted me,” said Petey J. “I didn’t want to remember anything so alcohol became my closest friend. When I hit rock bottom was there. Living at the Center with my peers from the military helped me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back into life.”