In an open letter to GPD grantees, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson encouraged program providers to take steps to further align housing interventions with Housing First approaches. Joe Savage, USICH regional coordinator, explores what this means for communities.
We know what it will take to end homelessness in our country. We've outlined our top priorities for 2016 to get us closer than ever before.
A breakdown of the key strategies used in Southern Nevada, a bustling community with an overall population of 603,000 people, to effectively end Veteran homelessness.
12/17/2015 - When Homelessness Becomes Rare, Brief, & Non-Recurring: Clarifying the Federal Criteria & Benchmarks
Five clarifications on the criteria and benchmarks to end Veteran homelessness.
Data can help drive progress - if we use it well and wisely. That's true for communities and it is true for the multiple interagency working groups USICH convenes to make Federal policy decisions to help end homelessness across America.
Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices our service members have made for us, and what we owe them for that sacrifice. I think I speak for all Americans when I say that one thing we certainly owe them is the opportunity of a place to call home. The Commonwealth of Virginia, and all the other communities that have achieved this amazing milestone, have honored that commitment to Veterans and serve as profound examples to the rest of the country that we can, in fact, end homelessness.
11/05/2015 - First Lady Michelle Obama Releases Video Encouraging Landlords to Help End Veteran Homelessness
First Lady Michelle Obama released a video to landlords today encouraging them to help communities across the country end Veteran homelessness.
“You all have the power to open doors for Vets, and give them the stability they deserve, and help our country solve an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long,” Mrs. Obama says.
The message asks landlords to make units available to Veterans with Federal rental assistance who haven’t yet been able find a home.
10/22/2015 - Engaging Landlords to End Veteran Homelessness: Seattle/King County Shares What They’ve Learned
Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, with a rental market vacancy rate of just two percent in several cities throughout King County. Like many cities, these market conditions make finding a sufficient supply of affordable rental units, and the landlords willing to rent them, a considerable challenge.
Dawn Barrett, with the King County Regional Veterans Initiative, walks us through how she and her team organized a landlord engagement event, including best practices all communities can use in their efforts to partner with landlords to end homelessness.
Army Veteran Thomas Green struggled with multiple episodes of homelessness spanning the past 20 years. Thanks to the coordination of multiple VA programs, Mr. Green now has stable housing in the Veterans Multi-Service Center's (VMC) Shelter Plus Care Program.
Learn more about Thomas Green's story and how the VMC, through coordination with other VA programs, is helping connect Veterans to housing in Philadelphia.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), along with its 19 member agencies, announced today the release of an amendment to Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
On behalf of the entire team at USICH, the teams at our Federal member agencies, and our many dedicated state and local partners working tirelessly to prevent and end homelessness, I am thrilled to share with you this updated version of Opening Doors, as amended in 2015.
Pima County and the City of Tucson hosted three Cabinet Secretaries and the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness last week at Pima County’s Sullivan Jackson Employment Center, showcasing our collaboration to end Veteran homelessness and help people experiencing homelessness reenter the workforce.
On June 2, I gathered with Councilman Ricki Barlow, the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, local mayors, non-profit and faith leaders, and three Federal Cabinet Secretaries from the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor for the Mayors Challenge Forum at the World Market Center.
Five years ago, the Obama Administration set an ambitious goal: to end homelessness among Veterans by the end of 2015. Many scoffed; many continue to scoff. In the face of such skepticism, we remain optimistic and focused, and know this is an historic opportunity we must seize. Veteran homelessness is not a reality we have to accept.
The HUD-VASH program has been a vital tool in our national efforts to end Veteran homelessness and since 2008, has assisted over 90,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness by providing rental assistance with case management and clinical services.
Sonia Niznik (pictured right, with her Case Manager, Rudy Trinidad) was taking shelter from Arizona’s dry summer heat at a “cooling center” provided by a local church when a team of outreach workers began conducting screenings using the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization and Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT). At the time, Sonia had been without a home for about three years.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Community Planning and Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Veteran Health Administration have recently announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets forth shared understanding of each agency’s respective roles and responsibilities regarding the use of Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).
Right now, in communities across our nation, there are men and women who wore our country's uniform who don't have a place to call home. Some fought in wars as far back as Vietnam or Korea, and some served more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. These brave Americans risked their lives for us and our freedom - yet, tonight, they won't even have a roof over their heads.
Veterans and families were the focus of the April 2015 Council Meeting.
It is truly an honor to have this opportunity to serve as Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and to help carry forward the great work of this agency and of my predecessors. It is also a distinct privilege to work with the fantastic team of staff we have at USICH, both the team working here in DC and our Regional Coordinators working out in the field.
In Central Florida, the most important building blocks to success are its people. People from all walks of life including landlords, judges, outreach workers, and faith leaders have partnered with the VA Medical Center to make a difference in the lives of Veterans experiencing homelessness and the data is showing that these strong partnerships are paying off, as the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness is decreasing in Central Florida. This past month, Federal partners from HUD, USICH, and VA joined Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to celebrate the great strides the community has taken and, even more importantly, rally the community to finish the job of ending Veteran homelessness.
Three months ago, after a campaign led by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans became the first major city to effectively end Veteran homelessness. During an intense six-month campaign, community partners connected every Veteran living on the street or in emergency shelter who would accept housing with an apartment of his or her own, with supportive services scaled to the Veteran’s needs. Now we actively work every day to maintain a “functional zero” in Veteran homelessness by housing any newly homeless Veteran within an average of 30 days.
I was happy to welcome U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to Tucson earlier this year for our annual Point In Time Count, also known as the Street Count.
I was proud to stand with Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman to support the March 9 launch of Connecticut’s 100-day effort across four communities to accelerate efforts to end homelessness.
Before he unlocked the door to his studio apartment in September 2014, Ben Jaramillo had been homeless in the downtown area of San Diego for four years. “I was working as a carpenter, and ended up in my van when work fell flat, and then just kind of stayed there out of convenience and convenience turned into necessity and necessity turned into stuck, because of finances,” he said.
In our shared mission to end homelessness, we know that data drives results. It drives the strategies and implementation of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, a framework for action for partners at every level of government and the private and nonprofit sectors.
Most great stories have a beginning, middle, and end. When it comes to the story of Virginia’s efforts to end Veteran homelessness, we started with the end in mind – a vision of a Virginia where Veteran homelessness, when it does occur, is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
On January 23, the White House hosted over 240 mayors during the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting.
To help communities optimize their current resources to accelerate progress towards ending Veteran homelessness, we have identified ten essential strategies for communities to increase leadership, collaboration and coordination among programs serving Veterans experiencing homelessness, and promote rapid access to permanent housing for all Veterans. Each strategy is accompanied by resources to help community leaders and stakeholders understand how to implement these strategies more effectively.
Today, a year after getting permanent housing and getting out of homelessness, Michael Horton – a Marine Corps Veteran and the Director of Business Development for the National Association of Concerned Veterans (NACV) – is passionate about helping other Veterans who encounter challenges in transitioning to civilian life. “If it wasn’t for my service I can’t imagine where I would be, and now that I am where I’m at and understanding the challenge not only for me but for other Veterans, [helping Veterans] is my passion and purpose,” he said. “That’s why I’m working with NACV now.”
This week, President Obama put forward a 2016 Budget that again demonstrates his Administration’s deep commitment to ending homelessness.
As I come to the end of my first week as Interim Executive Director of USICH, I am acutely aware that there are only 11 months to reach our goal to end Veteran homelessness in 2015.
On January 7, 2015, New Orleans announced that it had achieved an end to homelessness among Veterans. In doing so, New Orleans has become the first major city in the U.S. to achieve this goal, and well ahead of the Administration’s goal of ending Veteran homelessness across the nation by the end of 2015.
I was so honored to be in New Orleans yesterday, to celebrate what for me, is the biggest accomplishment to date in our fight to end homelessness among Veterans in this country.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, joined by USICH Executive Director Laura Zeilinger, announced that the City of New Orleans has effectively ended Veteran homelessness, answering the call of First Lady Michelle Obama who last June called on local leaders to join the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness before the end of 2015.
I was eight or nine when the idea of working with people experiencing homelessness first crossed my mind. It had been a long day and some relatives and I were walking to dinner. The city was crowded and as we passed under a building’s scaffolding, through the fast-walking legs of adults, I saw a man crouched by the edge of the sidewalk. What struck me was that everyone ignored him. It seemed to me that I was the only one who could see him. Once we reached the restaurant I broke into tears. When I got home I explained what happened to my mom. “Maybe you can work with the homeless when you’re older” she said.
As the year draws to a close, I am struck by how far we have come in our effort to end homelessness. 2014 has indeed been a historic year.
All across the country, communities are developing coordinated entry systems to streamline and facilitate access to appropriate housing and services for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. In the Greater Richmond area of Virginia and in Los Angeles County, California—like in other places—efforts to bring these systems online are in full swing.
Around the country, more communities are working in partnership with the Federal government to develop housing crisis response systems that effectively prevent and end homelessness.
Many readers have likely heard about the great progress being made toward ending homelessness in Salt Lake and Utah. Earlier this fall, I had the privilege of joining more than 475 people for the 11th Annual Utah Homeless Summit organized by Utah Department of Workforce Services’ Housing and Community Development Division.
On a single in January 2014, 49,993 Veterans were experiencing homelessness. This Veterans Day, in particular, is a good time to take stock of how our nation cares for the people who served. Ours is a shared obligation, to serve those who served us. We will answer our call of duty, and we hope our record of service to Veterans, in some measure, conveys our deep gratitude for the service and sacrifice of every person who wore the uniform of our great nation.
Just ahead of reporting remarkable advancements in ending homelessness across America, Obama Administration officials who make up the Council met on October 15, 2014, to measure the progress in the work of USICH and its partners, to discuss the data, and to chart the path forward to advance the goals of Opening Doors.
10/31/2014 - Good News from New Orleans: Federal and Community Collaboration Helped Transform This Veteran’s Life
Mr. H. seems like a completely different person from the man I met just a few months ago.
10/30/2014 - Partnerships for Opening Doors – Ending Homelessness through Meaningful and Sustainable Employment
“One of the best ways to eliminate homelessness is to get people jobs,” said Labor Secretary and Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) Thomas Perez at the Partnerships for Opening Doors summit, which took place at the Labor Department's headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 16, 2014.
Co-hosted by the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), USICH and the Butler Family Fund, the day-long national summit focused on integrating employment and housing strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Leaders from 11 communities representing Workforce Investment Boards, Continuums of Care, state Workforce Development Councils, advocacy and community-based and national nonprofit organizations engaged in intensive discussions to identify key actions for Federal partners to take to improve access to meaningful and sustainable employment, skills training, and supportive training for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
Every day, people who experience homelessness are subjected to local laws and ordinances that challenge their human rights and create real and lasting barriers.
Just ahead of reporting remarkable advancements in ending homelessness across America, Obama Administration officials who make up the Council met on October 15, 2014, to measure the progress in the work of USICH and its partners, to discuss the data, and to chart the path forward to advance the goals of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
This week, USICH published a tool to help CoCs better understand reallocations. Creating Effective Systems to End Homelessness: A Guide to Reallocating Funds in the CoC Program.
People experiencing homelessness need homes. This is the simple solution to ending homelessness, right? The complexity comes in finding, and funding, the homes. Read on to find out how stakeholders in King County, Washington, are succeeding at both.
The 25 Cities Effort is designed to help communities intensify and integrate their local efforts to end Veteran and chronic homelessness.
Once the city with the highest rate of homelessness in the country, today New Orleans has reduced homelessness to levels that are lower than before the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. By overcoming incredible challenges, New Orleans has shown that ending chronic and Veteran homelessness is possible in every American city.
07/09/2014 - Supportive Services for Veteran Families: A Powerful Tool to Keep Veterans and Their Families Home
So what makes SSVF such an effective program in ending and preventing homelessness for Veteran households? There are several key ingredients.
It is not enough for us to do the vitally important daily work that we do at our organizations to combat homelessness. We must also debunk the stereotypes that have sprung up about it. A fallacy that I have heard many times throughout my career is that “people choose to be homeless.” I vehemently disagree. People do not want to be homeless. Period.
Like most partnerships, one of the most critical ingredients is empathy. We have to be able to understand one another's incentives and find the common ground that aligns our work together.
Through the 25 Cities initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, communities have been invited to convene local leaders eager to build on their successes, identify new strategies, act decisively to strengthen their coordinated response systems and, in the process, end Veteran homelessness. To get started, teams of dedicated individuals are meeting for two-day-long intensive work sessions that drive a sophisticated planning process, resulting in specific action steps that will be carried out in months – not years.
In the first, of what I learned would be many, interagency meetings on chronic homelessness, Housing First adoption was discussed as a primary strategy for accelerating progress. And one of the very first tasks I was given was to help provide a clear, operational definition of Housing First.
I recently partnered with the San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council (RCCC) to host a first-of-its kind discussion locally, billed as Housing First: A Community Conversation for San Diego.
Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the 2014 HMIS Data Dictionary and HMIS Data Manual, with an effective date of October 1, 2014. This joint release demonstrates the significant collaboration between the three agencies to support data collection on homelessness across their programs and systems.
Setting up a coordinated assessment system is complex and doesn’t happen magically. But don’t let that stop you. Putting coordinated assessment in place doesn’t start with the challenges. It starts when communities decide that the challenges are worth facing.
Beginning from Secretary Shinseki's promise to give all Veterans "a hope, a home, and a future, Mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker, chronicles the amazing journey of committing and then successfully ending chronic Veteran Homelessness in his city.
Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix shares that through implementing coordinated partnerships and a "housing first" strategy, his city was able to successfully end chronic Veteran homelessness.
Elisha Harig-Blaine, Principal Associate for Housing for the National League of Cities, writes about how cities like Phoenix have made measurable progress in ending chronic Veteran homelessness and the impacts this success will have on these communities.
On December 11, members of all Council agencies, the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and the Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget met together to recommit to the goals of Opening Doors and to chart a path forward in the second term of the Obama Administration.