Ending Homelessness Today — Veterans
New Orleans Ends Veteran Homelessness, Sets an Example for the Nation
January 14, 2015
The city of New Orleans has come a long way in the nine or so years since the surging waters of Hurricane Katrina devastated large swaths of the city and displaced more than 400,000 of its residents. Before Katrina, a little more than 2,000 people experienced homelessness on a given night. By 2007, that number swelled to more than 11,500.
After Hurricane Katrina, homelessness skyrocketed in New Orleans as a result of the destruction of much of the housing stock and the disappearance of jobs. But in the intervening years, through incredible work by leaders in that community and others around the country, the number of people living on the streets, in shelters, and in abandoned buildings has declined significantly.
As of January 2014, the number people in Jefferson and Orleans parishes who experience homelessness on a given night had declined to 1,981 people. The homeless service system in New Orleans has become a national model for street outreach, landlord outreach, targeting of permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, and other strategies for fighting homelessness.
Last week the city reached a new and historic milestone when Mayor Landrieu announced that New Orleans had ended homelessness among veterans. Ending veteran homelessness is, of course, a major goal of “Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.” Under Opening Doors, the benchmark date set for ending veteran homelessness is the end of 2015.
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Mayor Landrieu Announces New Orleans has Ended Veteran Homelessness
January 07, 2015
New Orleans Mayor Mitche Landrieu announced today that his city has effectively ended homelessness among veterans by housing 227 veterans in 2014 and ensuring that all veterans who become homeless will be housed within an average of 30 days. This is a big deal. More than anything, it shows that it can be done: communities really can end veteran homelessness.
So you’re probably asking, "How did they do it?" The Alliance released a Community Snapshot today detailing some of the initiatives New Orleans undertook to address the issue. New Orleans' strategy includes aggressive outreach tactics on the street and in shelters, assigning housing navigators to each veteran, and bringing together key partners to ensure that each one had a stake in bringing an end to veteran homelessness.
New Orleans was already making serious progress in reducing homelessness. From 2007 to 2014, the city achieve an 83 percent reduction. And the city's housing providers, led by UNITY of Greater New Orleans, already had a lot of housing knowhow. But it wasn’t until Mayor Landrieu threw his support behind the initiative in July that the pieces really fell into place. As part of the First Lady’s Mayors Challenge, Mayor Landrieu committed his city to ending veteran homelessness - not by the end of 2015, the federal goal, but by the end of 2014.
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The Year Ahead in Veteran Homelessness
January 05, 2015
Fast forward to December 31, 2015, to a the White House Press Room where President Obama is holding a press conference announcing that we have effectively ended homelessness among veterans in our country. This may seem improbable – it is in fact only 360 days away – but we learned in 2014 that it is completely possible.
2015 will be a “nose to the grindstone” year for ending veteran homelessness. There is so much money and so much know-how out in the field right now; we know what works to get veterans permanently housed, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has provided (and will continue to provide) ample funds to make it happen. There are communities that have already accomplished the goal of ending homelessness among chronic veterans – Houston and Phoenix to name a couple – and as communities across the country fan out for their annual Point-in-Time Counts, I have no doubt that we will be hearing from many, many more.
But we’ll also begin hearing from communities that have effectively ended veteran homelessness. Binghamton, NY has already made the announcement, and New Orleans is queued up to announce it this week (much more on that later in a few days).
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How Many Homeless Veterans Will be Affected by VA’s Changes to Eligibility Requirements?
November 19, 2014
We have discussed on this blog again and again the fantastic progress we’ve made in addressing veteran homelessness and the long road we have ahead us to get the job done. Of course, we won’t be able to get there without the thousands of homeless advocates like you who are working at the local level, serving homeless veterans and their families directly. We are so appreciative of your efforts.
Last week I attended the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ Veterans Access to Housing Summit in New Orleans, where I met many great people and learned a lot about what is going on at the national level in the fight to end veteran homelessness. So with today’s blog post, I would like to give you a talk about one of the major focuses of the event. At the Summit the major topics of discussion included:
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Measuring Homelessness: How Do Veterans Compare?
November 18, 2014
Every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities across the country do a one-night count of its sheltered homeless population, and every other year requires that communities conduct a count of the unsheltered population.
The idea is to figure out where homelessness is going up and where it’s going down. This gives us a sense which communities are most effective in fighting homelessness, as well as where we should target our resources in order to make the biggest impact. The count includes data on a variety of subpopulations, including adults, youth, families, and veterans. For today’s blog post, in honor of Military Family Month, we’re talking about one of them in particular: veterans.
(By the way, the count takes place in January, so the 2015 PIT Count is coming up soon. If you’re interested in helping, please reach out to homeless assistance providers in your area. Communities always need dedicated volunteers.)
Here’s a quick a look at what the recently released 2014 PIT Count data say about trends in veteran homelessness.
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Study: Homeless Veterans Served by SSVF Program Far Less Likely to Return to Homelessness
November 13, 2014
A couple weeks ago the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released an intriguing research brief looking at their Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program, its homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing initiative for homeless veterans and their families. The study was conducted by the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans.
The study tracked 36,363 veterans served by the SSVF program during 2012 and 2013 to see how many of them fell back into homelessness after exiting (and were no longer receiving subsidies to pay for housing). They followed these households until January 1, 2014, which means some households were tracked for as long as 27 months, but most were followed for shorter periods. The findings were encouraging.
When researchers crunched the numbers, they found that only 9.4 percent of the veteran families who exited the program had returned to homelessness one year later. The number had increased to the 15.5 percent mark two years later. The success rate among single veterans was slightly lower, with 16 percent returning to homelessness one year later and 26.6 percent returning within two years.
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Happy Veterans Day from the Alliance!
November 11, 2014
On this Veterans Day, it’s a good time to take a moment to consider how far we have come and how far we still have to go in our efforts to end veteran homelessness. Since 2011, we have reduced veteran homelessness by 33 percent. Since January 2013, we have reduced it by 11 percent.
Make no mistake about it, we are proud of those numbers going down, but the goal is still to reach zero. How will we do it? This month we honored two cities, New York and New Orleans, who have achieved reductions in veteran homelessness by more than 60 percent. They’re doing something (actually, a lot of things) right. We took a look at their homeless systems, and here’s what we found.
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New York City, New Orleans Reduce Veteran Homelessness by more than 50 Percent in Three Years
November 03, 2014
In the last three years, communities across the country, among them New York City and New Orleans, have cut their numbers of veterans experiencing homelessness by more than 50 percent. Now, as part of our Never Another Homeless Veteran campaign, we’re spotlighting these communities that are leading the fight to end veteran homelessness in America.
According to numbers released last week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness on a given night in America has declined by 11 percent since 2013, and 33 percent since 2009. During the January 2014 Point-in-Time Count, volunteers counted 49,933 veterans out of a total of 578,424 people experiencing homelessness (or 9 percent).
We at the Alliance want to highlight this progress because it shows what communities can do. (Imagine how many changesd lives those numbers represent!) That’s why this week at our 2014 Awards Ceremony we’re honoring 14 of the 67 communities that have achieved a more than 50 percent reduction in veteran homelessness, with especial recognition for two of them: New Orleans and New York City.
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New Data Show Homelessness has Declined 11 Percent since 2007
October 31, 2014
Required by Congress, HUD’s PIT Count is the only national survey that counts everyone who is staying in a shelter or other homeless programs, as well as people who are unsheltered. Its methodology is fairly consistent over time, allowing an assessment of whether the number of homeless people is growing or shrinking each year. Though it does not count every single homeless person, nor does it assess the number of people who are at high risk of homelessness because they have unstable or unacceptable housing, it is the only way that we can determine approximately how many people are homeless, the characteristics of our homeless population, and how homeless Americans are using shelters.
The 2014 PIT Count data show that numbers of homeless people is moving in the right direction.
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Alliance to Honor Communities for Reducing Veteran Homelessness
October 23, 2014
On November 5, the Alliance will celebrate the progress we have made in the fight to end homelessness with our 2014 Annual Awards Ceremony, “Communities to Watch: Ending Veteran Homelessness.” This year marks the second year in our Never Another Homeless Veteran Campaign. As such, we will be honoring 20 communities that have decreased veteran homelessness by 50 percent or more in the past three years.
In 2009, President Obama announced the federal government's goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Since then, stakeholders on the national and local levels have been pushing hard to reach this ambitious goal. With the bipartisan support of Congress, communities across the country have implemented and expanded programs that provide homeless veterans and their families with crucial interventions like rental assistance and intensive case management.
As a nation, we have made incredible progress. Since 2011, we have reduced the number of veterans who experience homelessness on a given night by 26 percent. During the same period, the largest metropolitan area in the U.S., New York City, reduced veteran homelessness by almost 65 percent. (That’s more than 3,000 fewer homeless veterans.) And New Orleans achieved an astonishing 76.5 percent decrease in veteran homeless.
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We Have the Funding to End Veteran Homelessness. Now What?
October 09, 2014
Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it was releasing an additional $207 million in “surge funding” for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Later in the week, HUD announced that it was issuing 9,000 new HUD-VA supportive housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to house chronically homeless veterans.
Clearly, there are a lot of resources coming down the line to help address veteran homelessness. These new resources are meant to help communities find and house every homeless veteran in time to meet our goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. This year, VA has released more than $500 million in SSVF grants to nonprofits in every state covering nearly every locality. The money is there (and there might even be more coming soon), so as we’ve discussed in this blog before, the responsibility is now on communities, local VA Medical Centers (VAMCs), and services providers to get the job done.
We have seen great progress so far, but there are still nearly 50,000 veterans without a place to call home. If you are a provider in one of the communities that received surge funding (check here), get involved to ensure these funds are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Here are some important things you should be doing.
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225 Mayors Have Signed on to End Veteran Homelessness. Has Yours?
September 18, 2014
We are going to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. We have the know-how, the funds, and the political will across the country to make this happen – of this I have little doubt.
A big part of building political will has been the Mayor’s Challenge – a movement that began with the work of the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA), and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and some national nonprofit partners. Mayors across the country (around 225 and growing daily) have committed their communities to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
The public commitment to such a goal is the first step in a long process of getting the job done, but it’s an extremely important one. Prior to the Challenge, just a few federal departments and housing assistance providers scattered across the country shared the goal of ending veteran homelessness (and the hard work to reach it). Now that so many mayors and other elected officials have a stake in reaching the goal, they too are developing plans and taking action to make an impact, and in many cases they’re lending resources and expertise to the fight.
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Today We Remember
September 11, 2014
Today, on the anniversary of 9/11 and the day after the President announced continued military action in the Middle East, it is appropriate that we reflect upon those who serve in our military and the sacrifices they make to keep us safe. During the conflicts that followed that national tragedy and those that came before, they have paid the price for our safety and, for what they have done to protect America, we owe them.
That debt has come due. Veteran homelessness is down by 33 percent since 2010, but this September 11 nearly 50,000 of our nation’s veterans will be homeless. Not long ago many more veterans than that were homeless, and we have made progress. Nevertheless, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. The Obama Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs have committed to ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. It will take all of us working together to reach that ambitious goal. But we can do it, and when we do, we will show that it is possible to end homelessness in America for everyone.
If you believe, as we do, in a future where there is Never Another Homeless Veteran, here are a few small steps you can take to support the mission.
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In Case You Missed It: Veteran Homelessness Down 33 Percent since 2010
August 26, 2014
Today, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness announced that veteran homelessness has decreased 33 percent since 2010. The January 2014 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count found less than 50,000 veterans experiencing homelessness nationwide.
This news comes on the heels of $300 million in grants announced earlier in August for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to help more100,000 veterans and their families, and the launch of the Mayor’s Challenge on Veteran Homelessness launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in the spring. You can see all of the participating elected officials and the jurisdiction they represent on a map created by the Alliance.
All of this progress is positive, but there is a lot of work ahead. With less than two years remaining to end veteran homelessness by the stated goal of the 2016 PIT Count, the decreases must become much steeper. In fact, veteran homelessness will have to decrease by about 26,000 vets each year—about the same number of vets as the decrease between the 2010 and 2014 PIT Counts.
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Here’s What We Can Do to Help End Chronic Homelessness
July 23, 2014
As many of you are already aware, the Obama administration’s plan to end homelessness, Opening Doors, calls for ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015, ending chronic homelessness by 2016, and ending family and youth homelessness by 2020.
These are audacious goals, to be sure, but the Administration has already shown that it’s serious about reaching them. Since Opening Doors was enacted, the Administration’s budget has built up funding for housing for homeless veterans; the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have put campaigns in place to help communities implement effective practices; and the First Lady has assumed a prominent role as public advocate for ending homelessness.
Now, believe it or not, we have the funding we need to end veteran homelessness, and we may soon have a chance to secure the funding we need to end chronic homelessness. According to the Alliance’s analysis, in order to end chronical homelessness we will need new, dedicated funding for 35,000 to 40,000 rent subsidies, targeted to the chronically homeless population.
The Administration’s budget request asks for a $300 million increase in HUD’s homeless assistance for just that purpose. Congress’s initial response has not included it, but we believe they can be made to come around. And this is the year to do it – funding that is included for rent subsidies in the FY 2015 Continuum of Care is the last funding that will be on the streets in time to house people before the end of 2016.
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Here are the Cities where Mayors have Committed to Ending Veteran Homelessness
July 22, 2014
“The percentage of veterans who are homeless today is actually just 0.3 percent of the total veteran population. But even one homeless veteran is a shame and the fact that we have 58,000 is a moral outrage.” These were the words of first lady Michelle Obama as she launched the Mayor’s Challenge last month. The intiative is meant to eliminate veteran homelessness by asking mayors in cities across the U.S. take the lead in their communities.
At the start of this initiative 77 mayors, four county officials, and four governors committed to end veteran homelessness in 2015. Some individual mayors have taken the challenge even further by setting individual goals to end veteran homelessness before the 2015 deadline. And on June 16, the first lady spoke about veteran homelessness in Los Angeles, with Mayor Eric Garcetti joining the challenge and committing to end veteran homelessness in 2015 in L.A., the city with the largest homeless veteran population in the country.
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Here’s What You Can Expect from the Veterans Track of Our DC Conference
July 10, 2014
Our increasingly popular National Conference on Ending Homelessness is coming up in a few weeks, and this year we’re including some fantastic content on addressing veteran homelessness. The veterans workshop track (see the conference agenda here) will cover a variety of topics, from working with your local VA Medical Centers, utilizing HUD-VASH, making the most of your SSVF grants, and of course, how we are going to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
There are numerous initiatives taking place around veteran homelessness, including the 25 Cities initiative, the Mayors Challenge, and others. At the Conference, our workshops and discussions will focus on how you can make the most of these initiatives in your communities, but we’ll also be discussing how to move the needle on veteran homelessness even if your community isn’t involved in these initiatives.
In fact, in addition to our workshop content, we’ll be holding a BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakfast, of course) discussion around what your community should be doing to address veteran homelessness and bring the number down to zero. The discussion with Alliance and VA staff will be a casual “rap session” on some concrete steps you can take when you get home and what opportunities are coming up to take advantage of federal funds.
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Here’s a Quick Look at Veteran Homelessness in ‘The State of Homelessness 2014’
June 10, 2014
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been getting a lot of attention recently and not the good kind. But the VA has been doing good work on at least one issue that deserves more attention: veteran homelessness. Last week, the White House announced the Mayor’s Challenge, but that comes on the heels of years of decreases in veteran homelessness with strategic investments made by VA in rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing in the SSVF and HUD-VASH programs.
Since, 2009, veteran homelessness has decreased 23 percent. And, from 2012 to 2013 alone, veteran homelessness decreased 7.3 percent.
The Alliance’s recent report, State of Homelessness in America 2014, found that the national rate of veteran homelessness fell to 27 homeless veterans per 10,000 veterans in the general population from 29 homeless veterans per 10,000. It also examined state level trends in veteran homelessness.
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Michelle Obama: Ending Veteran Homelessness an Audacious, Achievable Goal
June 05, 2014
I’m more hopeful all the time that, by the end of 2015, the number of veterans who are homeless will be strikingly low. Yesterday I had the honor of participating in an event at the White House that I believe marked the beginning of the final push to end veteran homelessness. At the event, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
I had never seen Michelle Obama speak in person before. Now that I have, it’s clear to me that she will be a powerful and persuasive voice for this effort. (Video of the announcement is embedded at the top.) She spoke not just about the “moral outrage” of tens of thousands of veterans being homeless, but also about all the progress we have already made toward what she called the audacious but achievable goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Mayors, she said, “are best equipped to tackle this challenge because they know their communities inside and out, and they’re in touch with service providers who know these veterans by name.” During her speech, she announced the commitment of 77 mayors, four governors, and four county officials to meet that goal, and called on other mayors and local leaders to make the same commitment.
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How Did We Achieve a 24 Percent Reduction in Veteran Homelessness?
May 08, 2014
Here’s some more evidence that providing Housing First to homeless people works. As you may already be aware, between 2010 and 2013, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness on a single night in January decreased by 24 percent, going from 76,329 to 57,849. That reduction in veteran homelessness occurred in the midst of the Great Recession, an affordable housing crisis (which is still going on, by the way) and about 46.5 million people living in poverty.
How could this happen? Part of the answer is that the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) devoted more resources to ending veteran homelessness. Another other part is VA adopted the Housing First approach.
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