The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced May 30 that it will collaborate with the “100,000 Homes” campaign and its 117 participating communities to help find permanent housing for 10,000 vulnerable and chronically homeless veterans this year.
“President [Barack] Obama and I are personally committed to ending homelessness among veterans,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a VA news release. “Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope.”
According to the 2011 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress, homelessness among veterans has declined 12 percent since January 2010.
The new initiative is intended to help accomplish Shinseki’s goal of ending veteran homelessness in 2015. It will also support the ongoing work of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and a host of state and local organizations working to implement “Opening Doors,” the federal plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness.
The 100,000 Homes campaign is a national movement of over 100 communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals and families by July 2014.
The new partnership will better integrate the efforts of VA case managers and their local partners by leveraging VA resources and those of participants in the “100,000 Homes” campaign. The campaign’s national support staff, provided by New York-based non-profit Community Solutions, will also work with VA to provide technical assistance to help communities reduce the amount of time necessary to house a single homeless veteran.
As a result, community organizations will be better able to utilize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program. The program is a coordinated effort by HUD, VA, and local housing agencies to provide permanent housing with case management and other support services for homeless veterans.
The collaboration will also help VA increase the proportion of HUD-VASH vouchers that help house chronic and vulnerable homeless individuals. Research indicates that this approach can successfully end homelessness for vulnerable and chronically homeless veterans while also achieving significant public cost savings. From fiscal years 2008 to 2012, HUD has allocated funding to local public housing authorities to provide over 47,000 housing choice vouchers to homeless veterans.
Volunteers in participating “100,000 Homes” communities will help the VA identify homeless veterans through their registry week process. Registry weeks are community-wide efforts in which volunteers canvass their neighborhoods to survey homeless individuals and gather key information to help VA case managers expedite the housing process.
Support staff will also offer quality improvement training designed to help reduce the amount of time necessary to house a homeless veteran to 90 days or less. Pilot training in Los Angeles and New York City has already helped shave an average of 64 days from the veteran housing process in these communities.
In 2009, Obama and Shinseki announced the federal government’s goal to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Through the homeless veterans’ initiative, VA committed $800 million in fiscal year 2011 to strengthen programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans. VA provides a range of services to homeless veterans, including health care, housing, job training, and education.