Governor McAuliffe made an announcement on Wednesday, November 11th that Virginia is the first state in the country to functionally end veteran homelessness. We want to thank those who have been critical partners in our regional work preventing and ending homelessness, and share what this progress means going forward. We now have proof that through our data-driven and collaborative homeless services system we can end homelessness in Greater Richmond. This work has provided us with a model that we must now utilize to end homelessness for all of our most vulnerable neighbors.
To functionally end veteran homelessness means that veteran homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring in our community. It does not mean that no veteran will ever experience a housing crisis again, or that there aren’t still homeless veterans today. It does mean that a robust and systematic process is in place to effectively respond to the crisis of homelessness as it arises, and that we continue to house more veterans each month than the number who enter the homeless services system. Ending veteran homelessness means that we are restoring hope and dignity to our veterans and providing the housing stability necessary to rebuild their lives.
Our regional work ending veteran homelessness began many years ago, but it is thanks to national momentum, an intensive focus by service providers, and a series of system changes implemented in Greater Richmond that allowed us to achieve this goal. Here are the primary factors behind Richmond’s success:
- We found new ways to root our work in data, so that we can respond to real community needs and document that what we’re doing is working. Our veterans work allowed us to pilot a best practice coordinated assessment tool to score individuals and families based on vulnerability and need. With these scores our data is more actionable, as we can collaboratively prioritize housing interventions on regional “by-name” lists and target resources for those who are most vulnerable and most likely to die on the street. Targeting resources for the most difficult to serve has significantly propelled our homeless services system forward.
- We streamlined available housing resources and developed new partnerships to increase the availability of housing for homeless veterans. While affordable housing and landlord engagement are ongoing needs in our community, our work housing veterans has created critical new partnerships creating housing opportunities for veterans across a variety of interventions (rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing, public housing).
- We have seen the results of collective impact, and have taken collaboration to the next level. Throughout this work, case managers and program staff met regularly to evaluate data, implement system changes, and target resources to house our homeless veterans. Our region’s success is largely attributable to the tireless efforts of our VetLink housing team and Veterans workgroup. These have become the model we will use to combat chronic homelessness, family homelessness, and single adult homelessness in the coming years.
We are excited that we have accomplished what we have long been planning to do, and have rapidly accelerated the pace of change in our work. Ending veteran homelessness is only the beginning, however, and some of our greatest challenges lie ahead. We need your help to build on this progress and momentum so that we can also be the first state to end homelessness for all of our neighbors. We have demonstrated that we can do difficult things, and that we are committed to ending, not simply managing, the crisis of homelessness. To continue this work we need to make sure that our existing infrastructure is sustained, including shelter beds for those who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets, enough outreach workers and case managers to readily house individuals and families and connect them with the resources to maintain housing stability.
Between October 2014 and September 2015, our region has successfully housed over 350 veterans! We hope that you will join us in celebrating this success, as well as help us continue to move forward in our work reducing, preventing, and ending homelessness in Greater Richmond. Donate now.
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