“When a veteran comes home kissing the ground, it is unacceptable that he should have to sleep on it.” – FLOTUS Michelle Obama on ending veteran homelessness
I had the honor of representing North Carolina at the White House last week for the announcement of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Seeing the First Lady impassioned about the issues that we work on day in and day out and putting her energy behind the solutions we advocate every day was awe-inspiring. This challenge is giving all of us who work in the field the energy we need to finish the job.
It was amazing to hear our nation’s leadership speak about homelessness with such a deep understanding of this complex issue. You can share in the experience. Watch it here:
Mayor Joines from Winston-Salem is in! Not only is Mayor Joines in for the challenge, but ending veterans homelessness in Winston-Salem is possible within the year. Phoenix and Salt Lake City are already at zero.
Eliminating homelessness among veterans is something we can do: it’s within our reach with the resources available from the White House, HUD, and the VA. In the January 2014 Point-in-Time Count, which provides a snapshot of homelessness on one given night, there were 1160 veterans experiencing homelessness in North Carolina. Of these, 15% were unsheltered, 39% were staying in emergency shelter, and 46% were temporarily residing in transitional housing.
Mayor Joines shouldn’t be the only leader in North Carolina who signs on to the challenge. All North Carolina communities should make the pledge and help us get to zero homeless veterans.
View the complete list of leaders from across the country that have joined the challenge.
Check out what the White House includes in their guidance on how to end homelessness among veterans. You’ll probably recognize them as the strategies NCCEH supports.
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;
- 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 and their families 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 and their families remain stably housed; and
- Closely monitoring progress toward the goal, including the success of programs achieving permanent housing outcomes.
What you can do
- Support and implement the strategies listed above
- Contact your local leaders and Governor McCrory to ask them to join the challenge (find out how here)
- Find out more about the Mayors Challenge on HUD’s website
Let’s take on the challenge and get to work!