We know how to end homelessness among Veterans. Since 2014, more than 880 mayors, governors, and other state and local officials have answered the call of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, pledging to do all they can to ensure their communities succeed. And it’s working.
A growing list of 50 communities, including the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia, have proven that ending Veteran homelessness is possible and sustainable. As documented through the federal Criteria and Benchmarks, urban, suburban, and rural communities across 26 different states have proven that we can drive down the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness to as close to zero as possible, while also building and sustaining systems that can effectively and efficiently address Veterans’ housing crises in the future.
The national data tell the same story of remarkable progress. Thanks to unwavering commitment and partnership at the federal, state, and local levels, we've reduced Veteran homelessness by 47% in this country between 2011 and 2016—including a remarkable 17% reduction during 2015 alone—and achieved a 56% reduction in Veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Our progress has been driven by urgent action at all levels of government and across all sectors. Federal agencies have engaged in unprecedented coordination and shared responsibility. Congress have expanded investments into federal programs, such as the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which provide a range of housing and services interventions. State and local entities and the philanthropic community have aligned investments with federal resources. Communities have formed stronger partnerships to deploy those resources through best practices, including coordinated entry and Housing First approaches. And governors, mayors, and other public officials have mobilized their communities in support of a clear and ambitious goal.
We have identified 10 essential strategies communities are using to drive progress and to make sure that Veteran homelessness—when it can’t be prevented entirely—is a rare, brief, and one-time experience. We encourage stakeholders in every community to review these strategies and identify opportunities to strengthen their efforts and systems for ending—and sustaining an end—to Veteran homelessness.