Communities to Receive $300 Million in Additional Funding for Homeless Veteran Families

written by Steve Berg
March 11, 2014

Today the Alliance has put up the website our “veterans surge” map. The map shows the 78 communities that are eligible to receive extra funding from VA’s SSVF program, to create a “surge” of rapid re-housing with the goal of quickly reducing the number of homeless veterans to zero by the end of 2015.

By clicking on the flag in each community, you can get information about the number of homeless veterans in that community during the 2011 and 2013 Point-In-Time Counts, the amount of “surge” funding, and the number of homeless veterans they will need to reach each year in order to get to zero in time for the January, 2016 point-in-time count.

Looking over the numbers for these communities, in light of other developments, one thing becomes clear: the goal of ending homelessness for veterans by the end of 2015 is absolutely doable for communities that take the necessary steps.

To meet this goal, communities will need to do two basic things: quickly house all veterans who are homeless now or become homeless before the target date; and set up a prevention system that will find veterans who are in danger of homelessness and quickly stabilize their housing.

These two tasks follow up on what VA, HUD, Congress, and others at the federal level have done – put a full range of program models in place, fund them at the scale necessary to solve the problem, and push federal employees and grantees to implement the models.

Rapid re-housing, funded to scale, is the last piece of this puzzle. Rapid re-housing works, not only for homeless people with the fewest problems, but for a wide range of homeless people, and with the recent VA NOFA for SSVF, that piece is now in the hands of communities. The application deadline is this coming Friday March 14 at 4 p.m. eastern time.

It is vital that skilled providers apply for the Priority 1 surge funding in every one of these communities. In conjunction with additional HUD-VASH vouchers that will re-house the most severely disabled homeless veterans, the SSVF funding will ensure that rapid re-housing is available for all other homeless veterans now, and that prevention services will be available once all homeless veterans are re-housed.

With these resources in hand, communities will be able to find every veteran who is homeless and immediately move them into housing, where they will receive an appropriate level of other services from VA and elsewhere to keep them housed. The money is on the table. Now it is up to communities, including representatives of VA in those communities, to make the rest happen.

Here’s what it will be up to communities to accomplish:

  • Provide local leadership to ensure that their community makes the necessary commitments are made and monitors the progress so that the work gets done.
  • Draw on the help of others in the community, particularly landlords who are willing to rent to homeless veterans, and employers who are willing to hire recently homeless veterans.
  • Ensure that the coordinated assessment system that HUD-funded homeless programs are developing includes VA, so that homeless veterans have access to a range of resources.
  • Ensure that more expensive interventions like HUD-VASH are targeted to those with the most severe barriers to housing stability.
  • Follow best practices in rapid re-housing for SSVF providers, particularly the practice of screening in homeless veterans with more severe barriers. There is enough SSVF available to help every homeless veteran who is not receiving a HUD-VASH voucher.
  • Establish effective partnerships between VA and others in the community, especially around targeting and quickly using both new and turnover HUD-VASH vouchers.
  • Generate positive public excitement and enthusiasm about meeting this goal. We’ve tolerated homelessness among veterans for way too long. Let’s celebrate solving this problem!

View SSVF Surge Map in a larger map