Ending Veterans Homelessness

Functionally Ending Veteran Homelessness in the Commonwealth

On November 11, 2015 (Veterans Day), Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia was the first state in the country to functionally end veteran homelessness. This announcement was confirmed by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julián Castro and United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Executive Director Matthew Doherty.

To announce that Virginia had functionally ended veteran homelessness, the Commonwealth had to meet The Mayors Challenge and USICH criteria. Some of the major benchmarks include: identification of all veterans experiencing homelessness, quick access to permanent housing, following housing first models, and eliminating chronic homelessness among veterans.

VHA partnered with the Virginia Department of Veteran Services (DVS) to help launch this effort in 2014 with a statewide summit, followed by training boot camps and 100 Day Challenges. To find out more about ending veteran homelessness in the Commonwealth, read this VHA Op Ed. Functionally ending veteran homelessness is part of the federal Opening Doors Initiative.

100 Day Challenge to House Veterans

The Boot Camp was a two-day intensive event in September, where community partners from Richmond, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads came together to set bold targets and action steps to reach the goal, creating a system of coordination in the regions to house veterans faster. Facilitated by Rapid Results Institute and Community Solutions, teams participated in team building exercises that provided a constructive environment for sifting through challenges. Following the Housing First model, teams worked to eliminate the duplication of processes and ensure an efficient and effective distribution of resources to Virginia’s most vulnerable veterans through the Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement System. The communities left with a collective goal and a plan to house 370 veterans during the 100 Day Challenge that ended January 30, 2015.

Through the Challenge, all four community teams (Richmond, Roanoke, South Hampton Roads and Peninsula) have:

  • Created coordinated outreach teams to find and assess veterans
  • Implemented an evidence based assessment tool (VI-SPDAT) to effectively target resources *Over 500 veterans experiencing homelessness were assessed
  • Created community data and information sharing agreements (Releases of Information) between the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs), Continuums of Care, and community providers
  • Created a single, consolidated list of veterans experiencing homelessness who are prioritized based on their vulnerability and need (By-Name Lists)
  • Hampton and Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authorities provided additional Housing Choice Vouchers to allow existing HUD-VASH clients who no longer need intensive supportive services to move on to more independent, affordable housing; thereby freeing up HUD-VASH resources to serve those most in need
  • Dramatically decreased the processing time to place veterans in housing:
    • PHA’s now issue vouchers in 1 day once documentation is secured
    • All 7 Hampton Roads PHA’s formalized an agreement to have a universal HUD-VASH application, issue vouchers regionally based on need, and streamline the overall process

At the end of the 100 Day Challenge, 462 Veterans had been housed or were in the process of being housed! 338 Veterans had been housed and 124 Veterans had a housing voucher or rental assistance and were being assisted in actively searching for housing.