First Lady Michelle Obama, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today the creation of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness during an event at the White House. More than 75 mayors and county and state officials across the country pledged they are committed to ending veterans homelessness in their communities by 2015 using the power of federal, local, and non-profit resources.
The Obama Administration has already reduced veterans homelessness by 24 percent since 2010 and ending veterans homelessness by the end of 2015 is within reach, but we must continue to accelerate our progress to reach the ultimate goal. The successes of ending chronic homelessness among Veterans in Salt Lake City and Phoenix have raised the profile of ending Veteran homelessness and prove that with buy-in from local officials and community partners, ending Veteran homelessness is an achievable goal.
"When you serve our nation in the bravest of ways, you should not have to wonder where you will lay your head at night. The Administration and communities across the country have taken bold action to use existing resources to create permanent supportive housing and ensure the targeting of the most vulnerable people." said Shaun Donovan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "We know the size of the problem, we know the most effective and successful programs to get Veterans into permanent housing and Congress has given us the resources we need."
"We're on our way to ending Veterans homelessness by the end of 2015, but we can't do it alone," said Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson. "It's a challenge that requires close collaboration among Federal, State, local governments, and community groups. We've proven we can reduce Veterans homelessness--now it's time to end it."
"With Opening Doors, the first-ever federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, this Administration made ending Veteran homelessness a national priority. The progress we've made has put this goal in close reach," said Laura Zeilinger, Executive Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. "Now is the time to act with greater urgency and resolve. We call on every mayor and local leader to convene community partners, focus efforts on outcomes and instill relentless accountability to deliver on this commitment for every single one of our Veterans."
To aid the mayors in pursuit of the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the federal government has provided resources and enforced programs to strengthen our country's homeless assistance programs. These resources and reforms, when implemented in local communities, can include:
Using a Housing First approach, which removes barriers to help veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible, without unnecessary prerequisites;
Prioritizing the most vulnerable veterans, especially those experiencing chronic homelessness, for permanent supportive housing opportunities, including those created through the HUD-VASH program which offers vital housing assistance in the form of a rental voucher to help house approximately 10,000 veterans;
Coordinating outreach efforts to identify and engage every veteran experiencing homelessness and focus outreach efforts on achieving housing outcomes;
Targeting rapid rehousing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs' Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, toward veterans who need shorter-term rental subsidies and services in order to be reintegrated back into our communities;
Leveraging housing and services resources that can help veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA's programs get into stable housing;
Increasing early detection and access to preventive services so at‐risk veterans remain stably housed; and
Closely monitoring progress toward the goal, including the success of programs achieving permanent housing outcomes.