VA Urges National and Local Partners to Act Now to End Veteran Homelessness

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Robert A. McDonald, Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary. (File Photo/Custer Free Press

VA Urges National and Local Partners to Act Now to End Veteran Homelessness

Secretary announces 30-day effort to prioritize available resources to support and house homeless Veterans

January 5, 2017

WASHINGTON – Robert A. McDonald, Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Secretary today announced a concentrated 30-day effort by VA staff and partners to house as many homeless Veterans in their communities as possible. To accomplish this, Secretary McDonald charged VA’s network of federal, local and nongovernmental partners to target available housing and supportive services to the nation’s most vulnerable Veterans.
Secretary McDonald made the announcement from Los Angeles, the city with the most homeless Veterans last year, during a forum with community leaders. Since 2010, ongoing efforts to assist Veterans who lack stable housing have resulted in a 47-percent reduction in homelessness among Veterans. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, Veteran homelessness decreased by 17 percent – four times the previous year’s decline. While these statistics indicate that the efforts of VA and its partners are producing successful outcomes for many Veterans, more must be done to accelerate progress.

“We have made significant progress in dramatically reducing homelessness among Veterans in recent years, but we know there is more to be done,” Secretary McDonald said. “For the next 30-days – during a time of year when temperatures in many parts of the country can become dangerously cold – I challenge VA and all of our partners to strategically target available resources to help our nation’s homeless Veterans. Together, we can find where the needs are greatest among Veterans in each community and ensure that every Veteran has access to safe, permanent housing.”

The 30-day surge comes from a best practice Secretary McDonald observed in Tampa, Florida, where local housing officials hosted a one-day event to find homes for as many homeless Veterans as they could. Tampa officials called this Operation Reveille, referencing the French term for a bugle call to action. VA officials have adopted the term.

Operation Reveille builds on the all-in, surge concept VA uses during its homeless stand downs, which provide homeless Veterans with a one-stop shop for medical care, support services and needed clothing and toiletries. For a list of when VA medical centers are holding stand downs, click here.

From prioritizing unsheltered Veterans for immediate placement into safe housing, to organizing homeless stand downs and rapid rehousing events in their communities, there are many actions VA staff and partners can take to help Veterans quickly exit homelessness.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains committed to the goal of ending Veteran homelessness. Homelessness among Veterans continues to decline, with unprecedented investments and partnerships with federal, state, local and non-governmental partners leading to a 47% decrease in the number of homeless Veterans since 2010. Secretary Robert McDonald has charged VA to accelerate efforts to end Veteran homeless. We believe that with focused effort, we can continue the steep decline in the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness. There is a short window of opportunity, and we seek to engage all of our federal, state and local partners to rally around the goal to end Veteran homelessness. The 2017 Point-inTime counts will take place at the end of January, 2017. We propose the following targeted strategies for use by communities to accelerate their progress in ending Veteran homelessness.

1. Permanent Housing: Our goal is to increase the number of Veterans moving from the streets into permanent housing over the next 60 days. Specific strategies include:
 Fully utilize all HUD-VASH vouchers through enhanced VAMC and PHA processes.
 Ensure that project-based housing units for Veterans are filled.
 Increase the rate of permanent housing placements from VA’s HCHV Contract Residential Services and GPD programs.
 Maximize the rate of rapid re-housing in the SSVF Program.

2. The Right Services at the Right Time: Our goal is to take unsheltered and chronically homeless Veterans off the streets, and ensure that those who do enter the homeless response systems in our communities need that level of service. Specific strategies include:
 Ensure that Veterans are appropriately targeted for HUD-VASH.
 Prioritizing unsheltered Veterans for immediate placement into safe housing.
 Target VA’s residential services only for those Veterans who are literally homeless or at imminent risk.

3. Maximize VA Resources: VA is committed to ensuring staffing and bed resources are available to support this effort. These strategies include:
 Ramp up VA staff to support this effort.
 Ensure full utilization of residential program beds.

4. Community Engagement: Partnerships are critical to continued success. Strategies include:
 Engage landlords and developers in targeting units to Veterans.
 Engage Community Veteran Engagement Boards.
 Participate in Operation Reveille, taking Veterans off the streets immediately.
 Plan and Participate in PIT counts to ensure that Veterans are accurately identified and housed rapidly upon identification.

To learn more about VA programs and services that support homeless and at-risk Veterans, visit www.va.gov/homeless. A fact sheet on VA’s work to end Veteran homelessness is available here. A fact sheet on VA’s work to end Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles is here.

 

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