Addressing more than 200 mayors at the White House last week, President Obama highlighted the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and praised the leadership of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
What it Means to End Homelessness
A Message from Matthew Doherty
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. But I also see communities all across the country accelerating their efforts to get the job done. We've already seen what's possible when a community sets goals, focuses on permanent housing outcomes, and works together to solve problems. Just a few weeks ago, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the city had effectively ended Veteran homelessness, becoming the first major U.S. city to achieve the goal and doing it a full year ahead of schedule. Other communities are also on track to meet the goal, and just yesterday I joined local leaders in Los Angeles as they renewed their pledge to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015--a pledge made more confident by their achievement of having ended homelessness for 3,375 Veterans in 2014. There's no question that our shared goal remains in reach; our progress is proof of that. Our progress is proof that ending Veteran homelessness--and all homelessness--is possible. Right now, communities across the country are performing their annual Point-in-Time Counts, an opportunity to measure our progress as well as identify people in need--including Veterans--and connect them with a path to permanent housing.
HUD Secretary Julián Castro and USICH Interim Director Matthew Doherty participate in the Los Angeles PIT Count
Last week, I had the honor of joining Mayor Landrieu at the White House, along with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald and Special Assistant to the President Luke Tate, to talk with dozens of mayors from across the country about exactly what it takes to drive local action to end Veteran homelessness and exactly what it means to reach the goal. Mayors are tackling this issue head-on with added momentum from First Lady Michelle Obama, who last summer launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. As of today, more than 442 state and local leaders have signed on--including 329 mayors. The momentum created through the Mayors Challenge builds on the incredible progress made by people all around the country who have been working passionately on this issue for years and puts us within striking distance of our goal. We must all do everything in our power to seize this opportunity now. There is no time to waste.
This is why sharing the lessons learned from New Orleans--and from other communities on a fast-track to end Veteran homelessness--is critical. It's also important for every community to understand exactly what it means to end Veteran homelessness. To quote Mayor Landrieu, "the work of ending Veteran homelessness never really ends. A Veteran could lose his or her home tomorrow." Mayor Landrieu is right. Ending homelessness does not mean that no one will ever experience a housing crisis again--this is true for Veterans and for all populations. Ending homelessness is about two things: 1) bringing the number of people experiencing homelessness down now by connecting them to permanent housing and 2) ensuring homelessness in the future is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.
USICH and our partnersdeveloped specific criteriafor ending Veteran homelessness to help guide communities as they grow closer to achieving the goal. We have also adopted a vision ofwhat it means to end all homelessness. We hope these standards help to make local efforts more concrete and focused on long-term solutions.
An end to homelessness does not mean that no one will ever experience a housing crisis again. Changing economic realities, the unpredictability of life and unsafe or unwelcoming family environments may create situations where individuals, families, or youth could experience or be at-risk of homelessness.
An end to homelessness means that every community will have a systematic response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible or is otherwise a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience.
how homeless youth qualify for assistance from HUD's homeless assistance grants programs and particularly for emergency shelter. To assist providers and stakeholders that serve homeless youth and have questions about eligibility, HUD has provided an overview of their definition of homelessness, how it affects eligibility for emergency shelter and other resources, and the documentation that HUD requires.
The safety of individuals, especially children and youth, is the top priority for emergency shelter programs. Although HUD requires that its providers document homeless status, HUD, does not require third-party documentation before a household is admitted to an emergency shelter, receives street outreach services, or immediately receives services provided by a victim service provider.
President Obama Meets with Mayors, Hosts Break Out Session on Veteran Homelessness
Last week, President Obama hosted over 200 Mayors at the White House during their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Winter Meeting. This year's convening included a break out session focusing on Veteran Homelessness and highlighting the Mayors Challenge.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Renews City's Pledge to End Veteran Homelessness
Yesterday, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that 3,375 homeless veterans were housed in Los Angeles in 2014, meaning the City is more than halfway toward Mayor Garcetti's goal of ending veterans' homelessness by the end of 2015.
HUD Announces FY 2014 Continuum of Care Program Competition Awards
This week Secretary Castro announced $1.8 billion in grants to support nearly 8,400 local homeless housing and service programs across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CoC grants awarded support the Administration's efforts to end homelessness by providing critically needed housing and support services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness across the country.
HUD Publishes Resources to Assist Communities with PIT Count
With the 2015 Housing Inventory Count (HIC) and Point-in-Time (PIT) count upon us, HUD has published several resources to assist communities to have the most comprehensive count ever. Learn more.
SAMHSA Accepting Applications for SOAR TA Project
SAMHSA's SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) Technical Assistance Center is accepting applications from Continuums of Care (CoCs) that have not yet participated in the federally sponsored SOAR Technical Assistance Program. SAMHSA's SOAR program assists states and localities to expedite access to SSA disability programs for persons who are experiencing or at risk for homelessness and who have a mental illness, a co-occurring substance use disorder, or other serious medical condition. Interested CoCs are invited to submit a brief, 3-5 page application by February 9, 2015. Click here for more information.
Regional HUD offices are holding forums on the Mayors Challenge
With over 400 jurisdictions (cities, counties, and states) signed on to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by the end of 2015, and with cities like New Orleans having already done so, HUD regional offices across the nation are hosting regional forums on best practices for ending Veteran homelessness. Forums have taken place in Austin and Philadelphia and are scheduled for Chicago, Kansas City, Frankfort, KY and Seattle. HUD Regional offices hosting these forums will reach out directly to key partners in the community to participate.
Updated eCon Plan Troubleshooting Guide and FAQ's Now Available
A new and updated version of the eCon Plan Suite was released last month removing many of the system issues users experienced. HUD has updated the eCon Plan troubleshooting guide with interim solutions for remaining system defects in IDIS. HUD has also updated the eCon Plan's FAQ resource to reflect common questions grantees have about the system.
New Video: HUD Secretary Castro's Message on Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro recently released the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Video, highlighting the importance of affordable, quality health insurance for HUD program beneficiaries.
It is nothing short of remarkable that New Orleans was able to identify and engage every single Veteran experiencing homelessness in their community and provide them with ready access to permanent housing. Through this process and with Federal and local resources, New Orleans brought the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness down from the hundreds to a single digit number and that is certainly worthy of all of the praise and attention New Orleans is receiving.
But what is equally if not more important than bringing their numbers down is what New Orleans has done to create a system that will ensure that homelessness among Veterans remains a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience. In other words, it is not only hugely significant that New Orleans has ended homelessness for the Veterans who are experiencing homelessness today, but that they have the resources, capacity, and system in place to assist all Veterans experiencing or at-risk of homelessness in the future.
More and more communities are following on the heels of communities like New Orleans, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City (the latter two announced last year that they achieved the milestone of ending chronic homelessness among Veterans and are on track to end all Veteran homelessness.) We expect to see many more communities seeing dramatic reductions in homelessness among Veterans this year. As this happens, it is critical that we get very clear about what it truly means to end homelessness for Veterans and for all populations and to know whether we have achieved this goal.