There is a deep history of military service among my family and friends in Michigan, which drives my belief that, on Veterans Day and every day, we need to thank our service members. Service members and their families deserve our undying gratitude and our unfailing support once their service ends. It is unacceptable that any service member is experiencing homelessness in America. Which makes today’s news that we reduced Veteran homelessness another 2% nationally between the 2018 and 2019 point-in-time counts particularly good to hear. We’ve now reduced Veteran homelessness by half since 2010.
What’s more, we’ve now confirmed, along with HUD and VA, that 78 communities and 3 entire states have effectively ended Veteran homelessness. I know how hard those communities have worked to achieve that goal because I lead the effort to review their confirmation requests. And I see the sense of pride and accomplishment that they feel when they get to announce that achievement. I was able to attend the announcements in both Miami, FL, and Lexington, KY, and it’s amazing to watch community partners demonstrate in such a powerful and tangible way their commitment to their parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends who have served.
Being so deeply a part of this work with communities on ending Veteran homelessness, I am struck by three things:
Success is possible in all kinds of places, whether in Kittitas, WA, Miami, FL, or Southwest, MN. Identifying Veterans in crisis and supporting them to return to stable housing is not specific to a rural, suburban, or urban community, or to any part of the country. Which proves that with the appropriate resources and partnerships, we can succeed in serving all Veterans experiencing a housing crisis and communities will not stop until they finish the job.
Teamwork drives success. In communities across the country, highly committed leadership teams and services networks create the path to end homelessness among Veterans. This includes leadership teams made up of federal partners, such as VA Medical Centers and Community Resource and Referral Centers, but also includes local nonprofits, CoC leadership, Community Action Agencies, Veterans Service Organizations, and state and local elected officials.
Creativity is key. Teamwork also drives innovation. Creativity has been the driving force in developing an array of solutions and opportunities to fit a Veteran’s needs—from HUD-VASH and SSVF—including diversion, rapid re-housing, shallow subsidies—to landlord partnerships and mitigation funds. National partners, business leaders, and philanthropy have also played a significant role in allowing communities to be innovative and flexible with their funding.
An end to homelessness means that every community will have a systemic response in place that ensures that homelessness is rare, brief, and one-time. Over the last nine years, by learning and organizing and collaborating, we’ve reduced Veteran homelessness by half. From the passion I’ve seen in communities, I know that we can finish the job. Thank you to all who have served our country, past, present, and future.