Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia’s Significant Progress in Ending Veteran Homelessness
Today at the Virginia War Memorial, state and federal leaders convened to recognize community partners from Roanoke, Richmond, the Peninsula, and South Hampton Roads who participated in a 100 Day Challenge to tackle veteran homelessness in Virginia. Throughout the 100 Day Challenge, each community made profound changes to their homelessness response systems in order to maximize resources and connect veterans to housing faster. As a result, at the end of the 100 Day Challenge, 462 veterans have a home of their own or are in the process of accessing permanent housing. This is a significant accomplishment considering that 620 homeless veterans were counted in the statewide Point in Time count in January 2014.
“Ending veteran homelessness is a key component of making Virginia the best state in the country for active duty military personnel, veterans and their families,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I am proud of the progress we have made as a Commonwealth, but we cannot rest until every Virginia veteran has a safe and affordable place to live.”
In June of 2014, Governor McAuliffe responded to the call to action issued by First Lady Michelle Obama and joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, becoming the 4th Governor to commit to the cause. Since then, 13 Virginia mayors have signed on to the Challenge. The Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness is a way to solidify partnerships and secure commitments to end Veteran homelessness from mayors across the country. The effort has been amplified in Virginia through the support of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The National League of Cities.
The Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness coordinated this initiative with support from the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The effort required stronger and better streamlined coordination between local homelessness response systems, the local Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs), Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), state and local government, nonprofits, veterans’ service organizations and faith based partners. Utilizing the Housing First approach, communities worked to create systems that effectively identifies veterans through coordinated, community outreach, and efficiently places Virginia’s most vulnerable veterans into homes of their own. All four community teams implemented evidence based assessment tools to effectively target resources.
“Front line staff and community leaders across South Hampton Roads have been working tirelessly over the past 100 days to develop a system-wide response for getting veterans housed as quickly as possible. The results are gratifying – we have made important policy changes and are establishing the processes that will continue to serve veterans throughout the coming years. The Boot Camp and 100 Day Challenge allowed us to focus as a region, across private and public sectors and jurisdictions, on returning our veterans to homes of their own”, said Claudia Gooch, Vice President, Community Planning and Development, The Planning Council.
The successful work of local communities during the 100 Day Challenge demonstrates what can be achieved when multi-faceted community efforts are focused to do whatever it takes to meet the urgent housing needs of Virginia’s most vulnerable veterans.
“This is an exciting day in Virginia, not only have we ended the housing crisis of over 400 of Virginia’s most vulnerable veterans, we’ve built stronger systems that can help pave the way to meet the Governor’s goal to end veteran homelessness in Virginia by the end of 2015,” said John Harvey, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.
About the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness: A statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for increased resources and implementation of best practice strategies, such as the Housing First model, to prevent and end homelessness.
About the Virginia Department of Veteran Services (DVS) The Virginia Department of Veterans Services operates 23 benefit services offices that assist veterans and their family members in filing claims for federal veterans benefits. Among other services, DVS operates two long-term care facilities offering nursing, assisted living, and domiciliary care for veterans, and also provides veterans with direct linkages to needed services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment and other public and private assistance programs.