Alliance Partnership Reduces Family Homelessness in Virginia

written by Norm Suchar
June 9, 2014

After 12 wonderful years at the Alliance, I will be moving to HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS).

I have been involved in many fantastic projects during my time at the Alliance, and I wanted to share one of the more recent ones. We are in the third year of a three-year effort to change Virginia’s approach to family homelessness from one that focuses on emergency shelter to one that focuses on rapid re-housing. Along with several staff at the Alliance, we have some incredible partners in Virginia state government and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.*

How is it going? Well, the results are impressive. Family homelessness declined by 10 percent between 2012 and 2013 and a further 11 percent between 2013 and 2014. If you are looking for reasons to believe that ending family homelessness is possible, this is strong evidence.

One of the major themes of the project is to shift resources and incentives to providing rapid re-housing. The chart below was presented in a webinar on Resetting State Priorities to End Homelessness. It shows how Virginia’s state funding for shelter and rapid re-housing has changed over the past three years. (The program is a statewide program funded with general revenues.) Rapid re-housing went from being only a tiny share of overall funding to being a significant majority.

Over $4.5 million in State Funding for Rapid Re-Housing

Of course the concern about increasing the share of funding that is used for rapid re-housing is that it means less is available for emergency shelter. Throughout the project we have worked hard to ensure that increased rapid re-housing was reducing homelessness enough that reduced funding for shelter would not harm families. The numbers show that the strategy is working, and when you look beyond the numbers, you see incredible excitement about helping families leave shelter and move into housing.

If you're interest in learning more about our work in Virginia, check out these two previous blog posts:

My work at the Alliance has been immensely rewarding. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to work at the Alliance, I can tell you it is a privilege to come to work every day with such talented people and to be able to have such an important impact on a cause I care deeply about. The Alliance is an organization that values mission above all else and also has a friendly, engaging, and productive workplace.

*Honestly, if there was an award for a public servant who has bravely and skillfully remade a government’s response to homelessness, I would nominate Kathy Robertson from Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development.