Number of Homeless People Living on the Streets of Norfolk, Va. down 69 Percent

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National Alliance to End Homelessness

Press Releases | September 3, 2008

August 28, 2008

Contact: Lauren Wright
202-942-8246, lwright@naeh.org

City’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness Shows Early Results

Washington, DC

Having experienced a record 69 percent drop in the number of homeless people living on the streets in the last two years, Norfolk, Va. is among an increasing number of cities across the nation making measurable progress in reducing homelessness.

The total population of homeless people in Norfolk declined from 665 in 2006 to 502 in 2008. In addition to the 69 percent decline in the number of unsheltered homeless people, chronic homelessness (long-term or repeated homelessness experienced by those with a disability) decreased by almost 40 percent. The results have been credited to the implementation of Norfolk’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, launched in 2005.

“Due to the City’s well-crafted Ten Year Plan, Norfolk’s results in reducing homelessness have been staggering. This is not surprising, given the similar level of success that we’ve seen in other cities that have created and implemented Ten Year Plans – cities like Portland, Chicago, and Denver,” said Nan Roman, President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

In 2005, a collaborative effort of more than 70 service providers and public agencies created The City of Norfolk’s Blueprint to End Homelessness, an ambitious plan to end homelessness in 10 years. The plan employs a Housing First approach that helps individuals and families access permanent affordable housing and services much more rapidly than before. The Ten Year Plan also places enhanced emphasis on homelessness prevention strategies and programs.

“As a result of establishing a sound 10-year action plan, along with strong support from community service providers and local government agencies, the city of Norfolk has seen a tremendous reduction in the number of homeless people living on the streets,” said Virginia Governor Time Kaine. “It has been Norfolk’s community approach that has yielded these amazing results and I commend the city for bringing together such a diverse number of professionals to work on this critical problem. What has happened in Norfolk should serve as a model for other localities across the Commonwealth. I encourage all localities to develop a 10-year action plan to address homelessness and to work with the community service providers in your area to assure success.”

Since the inception of the plan in 2005, Norfolk has increased permanent supportive housing units by 65 percent and an estimated 1,224 people have been placed in housing. The localities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Portsmouth have pooled their resources to provide funding and rental subsidies for the first regionally-supported efficiency apartments for homeless single adults in the nation, Gosnold Apartments, which opened in 2006.

Gosnold Apartments are owned and operated by Virginia Supportive Housing and include 60 housing units with attached services that provide residents with access to employment skills training, literacy classes, and substance abuse recovery programs. Given the demonstrated success at Gosnold, a similar project is underway in Virginia Beach. Continuing with the existing regional partnership and recently joined by the City of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach will host the nation's second regional housing residence for single homeless adults with the opening of Cloverleaf Apartments in October 2008.

“For too many years, the policy in the City of Norfolk around homelessness was to have no policy,” Norfolk City Mayor Paul D. Fraim said. “Today, we are proud partners with our non-profits, faith institutions, and a growing legion of community members and business leaders who are investing in solutions to end homelessness that are demonstrating results. It’s a more humane approach, and it’s a more cost-effective approach.”

In 2000, The National Alliance to End Homelessness proposed that communities adopt Ten Year Plans to End Homelessness. Since then, more than 300 communities across the United States have made a commitment to end homelessness through their adoption of these plans, which outline a wide range of strategies with an emphasis on permanent, affordable housing and support.

“Norfolk, like many cities around the nation, has made great strides in reducing homelessness. To finally end homelessness, however, we need increased federal attention to the affordable housing crisis faced by communities across the country,” Roman said. “Communities can only do so much without adequate federal funding to support their Ten Year Plans.”

Last month, Congress passed one of the most substantial federal efforts to build low-income rental housing in nearly twenty years. The National Housing Trust Fund Act was passed with the goal of producing, preserving, and rehabilitating 1.5 million affordable homes in the next 10 years. The passage of the trust fund will help alleviate the financial burden of creating sufficient permanent housing.

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The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, mission- driven organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States. The Alliance analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost- effective policy solutions. Working collaboratively with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity, the Alliance provides data and research that lead to stronger programs and policies that help communities achieve their goal of ending homelessness. For more information on The National Alliance to End Homelessness, visit: www.endhomelessness.org