SNAPS In Focus: What it Means to End Veteran Homelessness

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Exchange Mailing List

SNAPS In Focus: What it Means to End Veteran Homelessness

Just over five years ago, this Administration set out to not just address homelessness, but to end it. Since the launch of Opening Doors, HUD, our federal partners, and communities across the country have been changing the way this work is done, turning status quo on its head. We have broken down silos and fostered partnerships that were once considered impossible. We have taken risks, tested strategies, and changed course when something was not having the impact expected. And as a result, we are seeing tremendous progress. As we get closer to December 31, 2015 – the target date established in Opening Doors for when we as a nation would end veteran homelessness – many communities are wondering: How are we doing?
For years we have measured progress based on the results of the point-in-time (PIT) count. But ending veteran homelessness locally is not just about reducing the number of veterans identified at a point in time. It is also about having a system in place that is able to prevent veterans from experiencing homelessness to the maximum extent possible while connecting veterans that do experience homelessness to permanent housing as quickly as possible, making sure that it is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
Earlier this year, HUD, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a set of criteria to help communities assess their progress based on our knowledge at the time. Although there was a great deal of thought and consideration that went into those criteria, we realized over time that we needed to be clearer about our expectations and that communities needed criteria and benchmarks that could be measured. Earlier this week, we released an updated set of criteria accompanied by benchmarks that communities can refer to in order to determine if the criteria have been met. The purpose of the benchmarks is to help communities make real and lasting changes that are needed to truly end homelessness among veterans. However, we recognize that communities face unique circumstances and challenges that require consideration.
Communities that believe they have met these updated criteria can submit a request to HUD and its federal partners to validate this accomplishment. We will be releasing a set of specifications shortly to help communities gauge whether or not they have met the criteria and benchmarks. To begin the confirmation process, a community can take the following steps:
An Interagency Review Team, made up of representatives from USICH, HUD, and the VA, will review your request, ask any clarifying questions we may have, and let you know the outcome of our review.
Finally, there are a few additional points that you should consider:
  • If your community is one of the 75 communities participating in the Zero: 2016 initiative then you may be aware that the criteria for measuring an end to veteran homelessness are different in that initiative. The communities in Zero: 2016 are leading the way in ending veteran homelessness, and those communities are receiving significant investments of federally-funded technical assistance in order to be able to do so. A community may be able to demonstrate that it has met the federal criteria but still have additional work to do in order to meet the Zero: 2016 accomplishment and we will continue to provide support to those communities in order to get there.
  • We have never ended veteran homelessness before so we are learning as we go! As we continue to learn from communities, we will refine and adapt the criteria and benchmarks. We also recognize that community context matters. For this reason, the benchmarks are not intended to be pass/fail and community context will be taken into account when considering community claims.
Thank you for all that you do in the efforts to end homelessness in your community!
Ann Oliva
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs

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Schedule and Resources for the 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report

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Schedule and Resources for the 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report

Beginning on October 1, 2015, communities can submit their data for the 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) through the Homelessness Data Exchange (HDX). In preparation, those assigned as Primary Contacts for Continuums of Care (CoCs) should log in at and review and edit the list of people who have access to their community’s data via the HDX (see the HDX Admin\CoC Access tabs).
CoCs that have not participated in the past but wish to submit data this year can register for the AHAR as soon as possible by clicking on the Register as an AHAR site link on the HDX homepage. The homepage also contains AHAR resources for communities interested in the AHAR.
The schedule for the 2015 AHAR is:
  • December 2, 2015: Deadline for draft data on both All Persons and Veterans
  • December 16, 2015: Deadline for final data on both All Persons and Veterans
The 2015 AHAR reporting requirements are based on the HMIS Data Standards from March 2010.
As the AHAR kick-off date approaches, updated community resources including webinars, FAQs, and detailed guidance will be announced through the HUD Exchange mailing list and linked to from the HDX homepage.
If you have questions pertaining to the AHAR, please submit your questions to the HDX Ask A Question (AAQ) portal on the HUD Exchange website. To submit a question to the HDX AAQ portal, select “HDX: Homelessness Data Exchange” from the “My question is related to” drop down list on Step 2 of the question submission process.

Special Alert from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No one should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.

October 2, 2015
Special Alert

JUST RELEASED: Further Guidance for Communities on What it Means to End Veteran Homelessness

Criteria and benchmarks for achieving the goal of ending Veteran homelessness
Fundamentally, ending Veteran homelessness is about two things:
  • Connecting Veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness now to permanent housing.
  • Making sure that no Veteran experiences chronic or long-term homelessness again by putting robust systems into place to ensure that homelessness can  be prevented whenever possible -- and if it can't be prevented, that it is rare, brief, and non-recurring.
Earlier this year, USICH, VA, and HUD developed a set of criteria to help communities assess their progress toward achieving the goal of ending Veteran homelessness.

We heard from many communities that they would like the criteria to be clearer about some of the expectations and more measurable. In response, we further refined the criteria and added some benchmarks and specifications to clarify how we define ending Veteran homelessness.

10 Strategies for Ending Veteran Homelessness 
Veteran standing in front of housing
In order to support communities as they strive towards the goal of ending Veteran homelessness, we identified 10 strategies that increase leadership, collaboration, and coordination among programs serving Veterans and promote rapid access to permanent housing for all Veterans. 
Each strategy is accompanied by additional resources to help community leaders and stakeholders implement them.

Read the 10 Strategies.  

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness | 1275 First Street, NE | Suite 227 | Washington | DC | 20552

Rescheduled Date: Spotlighting Communities that are Successfully Coordinating Resources to End Veteran Homelessness - October 6, 2015 - 3:30 PM EDT

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Rescheduled Date: Hear from Your Peers Webinar - Spotlighting Two Communities that are Successfully Coordinating Healthcare and Housing Resources to End Veteran Homelessness - October 6, 2015 - 3:30 PM EDT

Originally planned for Tuesday, September 29th, this webinar has been rescheduled to October 6th from 3:30 to 5:00 PM EDT. Please register below to attend.

Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness set the goal to end homelessness among military veterans in 2015. Ensuring that veterans get and stay successfully housed requires strong bridges to mainstream resources and benefits, especially healthcare services such as targeted case management, substance abuse and mental health treatment. This peer-to-peer webinar will support CoC and ESG grantees and other stakeholders with accomplishing the Opening Doors goal by exploring two examples of communities that have made great progress in ending veteran homelessness.

Panelists include:

Opening Remarks: Roula K. Sweis, M.A., Psy.D., Supervisory Program Advisor, HUD’s Office of the Assistant Secretary, Community Planning and Development
  • Dr. Cynthia Dodge, Director of the VA’s Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) for southern Nevada
  • Michele Fuller-Hallauer, Continuum of Care Coordinator, Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition – Committee on Homelessness
  • Annamaria Gueco, Supportive Housing Department Manager, Sound Mental Health, King County, WA
  • Lisa Farsje, Substance Use Disorder Specialist, VA Supported Housing, VA Puget Sound Healthcare System

By the end of the webinar, audience members will learn:

  • How a VA resource center and the Continuum of Care’s homeless coordinated entry system have integrated their processes and programing to target homeless veterans and help assure that they are aware of, and directed to, all the VA, community-based and SSI/ Medicaid resources for which they are eligible.
  • Successful strategies for delivering mental health and substance use treatment, as well as coordinating other support services needed by formerly homeless veterans in permanent supportive housing.
  • Innovative strategies and approaches to community-wide collaborations to move chronically homeless veterans off the streets and into long-term, appropriate housing and healthcare services.
  • The personal story of one PSH resident who successfully negotiated this transition.

Registration Instructions:

The webinar is limited to 1,000 participants and registration is required to join the webinar.
To register, please complete and submit the Webinar Registration Form.Once registered, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with the webinar meeting link and call-in number.
If you are unable to participate in the webinar you can still view it at a later time. The webinar will be recorded and available for future viewing on the HUD Exchange Training and Events page. Materials referenced by the presenters will also be available through the HUD Exchange.
If you have any registration questions, please contact Donald Chamberlain at (206) 409-8588 or
This webinar is part of a series of webinars being developed through HUD's Healthcare and Housing (H²) TA initiative. Sign up for the HUD Exchange Mailing List to learn about future webinars.

Disaster Preparedness for CoCs and ESG Recipients

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Disaster Preparedness for CoCs and ESG Recipients

When a disaster strikes, individuals and families living on the street are among the most vulnerable populations. Persons experiencing homelessness have little or no resources to evacuate or shelter in place, stockpile food, and access medications. As Hurricane Joaquin builds and its effects – including heavy rains, high winds, and flooding – threaten some coastal areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States, Continuums of Care (CoCs) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) recipients and subrecipients in these areas should be considering the best ways to ensure that homeless individuals and families will be able to weather the storm in safe and dry locations. However, disasters can strike unexpectedly almost anywhere in the country. Communities and individuals can - and should - plan in advance for emergencies, in order to better help homeless populations if and when a major disaster occurs.
As part of SNAPS Technical Assistance (TA), CoCs and grantees can request TA to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a major disaster. Questions and requests for Technical Assistance can be submitted on the HUD Exchange.

Steps to be Better Prepared for an Emergency:

  • CoC and ESG recipients, subrecipients, contractors, and program participants should register with local emergency broadcast mechanisms listed below that will alert them to an impending disaster. These alerts can provide individuals and families, as well as service providers, the information they need to act when a disaster occurs.
  • CoCs and service providers should ensure that they, and others in their CoC, understand the resources that will be available to program participants during a disaster. Evacuation, shelter-in-place, and other plans may differ based on the part of a city in which a unit is located. For example, service providers can help program participants become familiar with local emergency evacuation routes, particularly when helping someone move to a new neighborhood. Or, they could help program participants develop their own plan of action for family members during a disaster.
  • Become familiar with state and local resources in addition to national and Federal resources. View state government websites and other resources.
  • Download the FEMA mobile app designed for phones and tablets with disaster safety tips, an interactive emergency kit list, storable emergency meeting locations, and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs).
  • For more detail on planning for disasters, review the Directory of Disaster Response and Recovery Resources, which provides an outline of the programs, projects and other resources available to a community around disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. View additional resources to help a community and individuals prepare for a disaster.

Stay Informed!

The following information sites are designed to alert communities to a potential or actual disaster:
View additional resources for communities and individuals that have been impacted by a disaster.

[Draft] AHAR Extension Request from MD CoC's to HUD

ATTN: MD CoC Leads + HMIS Leads, as most of us have already discussed, I am proposing to send this request to our HUD TA's at Abt and Associates regarding an extension to the AHAR draft and final due dates.  If anyone objects or wishes to be excluded from this letter, please let me know.  I plan on sending the final email to Abt and Associates by 10/7/15.  Thank you!

...the MD CoC's are requesting for HUD to extend the AHAR deadlines (draft and final) due to the significant increased workload as a result of numerous recent program changes and additions, which include, but are not limited to the items listed below.

  • 2015 NOFA / CoC Application
  • 2014 HMIS Data Standards
  • 2015 HMIS Critical Data Standards Changes
  • Zero Veterans Homeless by 12/31/15
  • Coordinated Assessment
  • Rating + Ranking
  • Housing First
  • Prioritizing Chronically Homelessness
  • VA Community Planning
  • 2015 ESG data standards + CAPER
  • SHP + HHS + VA + CDBG + CSBG 
  • Homeless Youth Initiatives
  • Housing Inventory Count
  • Point in Time
  • Environmental Reviews
  • Annual Homeless Assessment Report 
  • new state data/reporting requirements
  • updates to local HMIS policies + procedures
  • updates to local HMIS client confidentiality
  • updates to local HMIS client data collection + sharing
  • updates to local HMIS monitoring procedures
  • excessive instances of HMIS software glitches/updates
  • program funding + staffing cuts

We appreciate HUD's consideration, and hope that we are able to mutually come to an agreement, so that we may all continue with our efforts to properly serve our homeless and at-risk clients.  Thank you for your guidance and support.  

Jason Burns, MCSE
Systems Administrator

Always use our manuals. NEVER guess! Proper data saves hours! 

Baltimore County HMIS News 10/2/15

Good afternoon!  Please view the news below.  Thank you for your participation!

NOTE: Failed performance measures may result in funding suspension and/or ranking penalties.

Jason Burns, MCSE
Systems Administrator

Always use our manuals. NEVER guess! Proper data saves hours!