United States Interagency Council on Homelessness - No on should experience homelessness. No one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.
 Ending Veteran Homelessness                                  April 25, 2013        


Pushing to the Goal: 3 Ways to Accelerate Ending Veteran Homelessness

With less than 1,000 days until the 2015 goal, here are three important ways to accelerate progress    


The Administration's commitment to end homelessness among Veterans and their families remains steadfast. The President's FY 2014 budget proposal continues to increase investment in effective strategies including $75 million for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and $300 million for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programThe Administration's previous investments in ending Veteran homelessness continue to show significant results: homelessness among Veterans is down 18 percent since the launch of Opening Doors.


During the April 16 meeting of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, along with representation from the White House's Domestic Policy Council and Office of Management and Budget, Council leadership reviewed progress at ending Veterans homelessness, recognizing that even with the progress to date, efforts must be accelerated to meet the goal of ending Veterans homelessness by 2015. Ending Veterans homelessness remains possible with the right investments focused in the right way: investments that connect Veterans experiencing homelessness to housing, that ensure that Veterans in need of support are identified and connected with the right services, and that leverage mainstream benefits for Veterans experiencing homelessness. The full article, located on our website along with the content below, focuses on progress and opportunities in three areas. 
  • Faster Connections to Permanent Housing
  • Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Every Veteran
  • Stronger Bridges to Mainstream Benefits
In each of these three areas, we detail programs and share results on some important indicators of success, including the rate of placement into permanent housing in HUD-VASH and the increase in uptake of mainstream benefits among Veterans involved in SSVF. We also share some important questions communities can use to help better identify the needs of Veterans both attached to and not currently attached to VA services. 

There are less than 1,000 days before the end of 2015. Focusing on these three important ways to accelerate progress will help communities and our nation ensure that every Veteran has a safe, stable place to call home - and together we'll achieve our goal. 


Read more in the full article 


Go to "Veteran Homelessness In Focus" for all USICH content on Veterans


Breaking Down Legal Barriers to Housing 

Overcoming the legal issues that can make it difficult for Veterans to access housing, benefits, employment, treatment, and other needed services.  


Like other people who experience homelessness, many Veterans encounter legal barriers to housing. Both civil and criminal legal issues can make it difficult to access housing, benefits, employment, treatment, and other needed services. These types of legal barriers may contribute to a Veteran becoming homeless, as well as make it challenging for a Veteran to exit homelessness.


Every year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) releases its  CHALENG report (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups), which estimates the number of homeless Veterans and describes their service needs. Legal assistance needs repeatedly rank as some of the highest unmet needs on CHALENG reports, even ahead of housing. The most recent CHALENG report indicates that three of the top ten needs identified by both consumers and providers are legal assistance needs for child support issues, outstanding warrants and fines, and help to restore a driver's license. 


While the VA does not directly provide official legal representation, the agency and its partners are taking notice and developing initiatives to address the needs of justice-involved Veterans. For Veteran-serving organizations, accessing these resources can help fill the gap in legal assistance than can be a barrier to stability for Veterans. 


Read more


Ending Veterans Homelessness: HUD-VASH Makes Housing First a Priority

USICH spoke with VA's Vince Kane about the importance of Housing First in HUD-VASH and beyond.


In October 2012, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs made Housing First the official policy for the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH program), which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and other services from VA. We recently spoke with Vince Kane, Director of VA's National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans (the Center), about how VA decided to adopt Housing First, what VA has learned about implementing this approach within the HUD-VASH program, and using a Housing First approach in other VA programs. 


Housing First places permanent housing with supports at the foundation for success and stability, including better access and outcomes with treatment services. The Housing First model minimizes barriers to recovery and focuses on access, rapid engagement, and then sustainment of community-based permanent housing. That means that Veterans can move from the streets or shelters directly into permanent housing as quickly and safely as possible. Housing First helps VA focus HUD-VASH on Veterans experiencing the most significant challenges to housing stability, including chronic homelessness, severe mental illness, and other significant barriers. 


In this piece, Mr. Kane discussed with USICH some important elements to this shift at VA, including an important demonstration project in 2009 and a 2012 evaluation of service-enhanced implementation of Housing First in 14 sites across the country. The piece also discusses ways that Housing First is being applied in other VA programs. 


Read the full article 


Want a quick way to know if a program is Housing First? Access the Housing First Checklist 


Open Doors to Innovation and join the webinar on May 8, 2013 hosted by USICH and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans on using the Housing First model as a clinical practice that can be adopted for transitional housing programs. Learn more about the webinar and register.


Successful Program Model: Washington State's SOAR Program for Veterans

Spotlight on Washington State's SOAR program    


As mentioned above, a key element in accelerating progress in ending Veteran homelessness is improving Veterans' access to mainstream benefits. A program developed in Washington State helps to increase access to Social Security disability benefits for disabled Veterans and their families who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness. One of the specific objectives of this program is to support the goal of eliminating homelessness among Veterans by 2015. Helping Veterans access Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) plays an important function in achieving the 2015 goal because SSI/SSDI provides access to income, housing, health insurance and treatment, as well as employment and related supports. The Washington State SOAR (SSI and SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery) program strives to streamline and expedite the Social Security disability benefits application and approval process for disabled Veterans. 


Learn more from Washington State's SOAR program 


VA, HUD, and Jon Bon Jovi Announce Project REACH Winner 

Project REACH sought creative and cost-efficient ways to use open data to connect Veterans experiencing homelessness with resources. 


The Department of Veterans

Affairs (VA) has announced the winner of a mobile application competition designed to make local assistance resources accessible to people helping homeless Veterans and others in need.  The winner of the $25,000 prize was Reston, Va.-based Qbase, which developed "Homeless REACH." VA's Center for Innovation (VACI) sponsored the competition, called Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and Homeless), in collaboration with the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services.


"This contest tapped into a community of software developers who rose to the challenge to use mobile and information technology in support of our mission - to better serve Veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "The result is a robust and scalable tool for caregivers, social workers, and anyone who wants to help homeless Veterans access the support and physical care they need."


"We've come to rely on smart phones and tablets to access information and now we can apply this same technology to help people find a place to sleep or direct them to medical and other vital services," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. "This mobile app represents another high-impact collaboration between HUD, VA, and key partners in our shared effort to end Veteran homelessness in 2015." 


Read the full press release to learn more


News from our Partners

Department of Housing and Urban  Development


HUD Releases Rural Housing Stability Program Regulations and Chronically Homeless Definition 

 The purpose of the Rural Housing Stability Program (RHSP) is to rehouse or improve the housing situations of individuals and families who are homeless or in the worst housing situations in the geographic area, stabilize the housing of individuals and families who are in imminent danger of losing housing,and improve the ability of the lowest-income residents of the community to afford stable housing. The proposed rule for the new Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program (RHSP) was published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2013. The public comment period of 60 days closes May 28, 2013. As this is a proposed rule, it will not go into effect until a final rule is published. 

The RHSP proposed rule includes a new proposed definition of "chronically homeless" which specifically defines what is meant by an occasion of homelessness in order to better target persons with the longest histories of homelessness and the highest level of need. HUD is seeking public comment on this new definition.HUD is publishing this definition again to provide the public an additional opportunity to comment based on the changes HUD made resulting from the previous public comments. The definition of "chronically homeless" will apply to all of HUD's programs. 


Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding the RHSP rule, including the chronically homeless definition, through May 28, 2013.



Learn more and comment 


Department of Health & Human Services


SAMHSA Announces FY 2013 Request for Applications from select states for Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI)


SAMHSA, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2013 Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals for States (CABHI-States) grants. The purpose of this jointly funded program is to enhance or develop the infrastructure of states and their treatment service systems to increase capacity to provide accessible, effective, comprehensive, coordinated/integrated, and evidence-based treatment services; permanent supportive housing; peer supports; CMHS-funded peer navigator(s); and other critical services to persons who experience chronic homelessness with substance use disorders or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. Eligible applicants are the single state agencies for substance abuse in the District of Columbia (D.C.) and the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.


Application deadline is May 28, 2013 


Learn more and apply


Department of Justice


Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adult Offenders FY 2013 Competitive Grant Announcement 


The U.S. Department of Justice, (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) recently announced the availability of funds under its FY 2013 Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adult Offenders with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders. This grant program is designed to improve outcomes for adults with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders through the provision of appropriate evidence-based services and treatment during and after incarceration in prison or jail. This year's competition encourages collaboration between state and community reentry efforts and efforts to end chronic homelessness. Applicants are urged to propose programs that can serve offenders with co-occurring disorders who are also experiencing chronic homelessness. This includes services that support housing stability in permanent supportive housing to end homelessness, reduce recidivism, and promote public safety. 


All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on May 16, 2013.


Learn more and apply


Department of Labor 


Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP) Request for Applications


The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of up to $5 million to fund 16 or more Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program grants. Approximately 2,600 Veterans will receive job training and related services to help them succeed in civilian careers. Funds for the grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards, public agencies, nonprofit organizations, tribal governments, and faith-based and community organizations. Because these groups are intimately connected with their local economies and the needs of homeless veterans, they can offer occupational, classroom, and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. Awards will range from $100,000 to $300,000 each. The solicitation for grant applications is available at http://www.grants.gov. For more information, visit that site and http://www.dol.gov/vets, or contact grants officer Cassandra Mitchell at 202-693-4570.


Application Deadline is May 3. 

Table of Contents
3 Ways to Accelerate Ending Veteran Homelessness
Breaking Down Legal Barriers to Housing
HUD-VASH Makes Housing First a Priority
Successful Program Model: Washington State's SOAR Program
Project REACH Winner
News from our Partners
USICH and NCHV Webinar on Housing First

"Opening  Doors to Innovation: Improving Client Outcomes Using Housing First" 


Wednesday, May 8, 

1 pm ET


Join USICH and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to discuss how Housing First practices can improve client outcomes in a transitional housing setting and help our Nation's Veterans and others who experience homelessness move more quickly into
permanent housing. 


Participate in a conversation with Dr. Josh Bamberger from the San Francisco Department of Health and Dr. Tom O'Toole from Veterans Affairs Medical Center Providence, RI on the clinical dimensions of Housing First and how it can help to deliver improved care to clients and speed up their transitions into permanent housing.  


On this webinar you'll learn more about Housing First as a clinical practice from healthcare providers in both community and VA-based settings. You'll also hear from a local transitional housing provider for Veterans who innovated their program with Housing First principles to enhance the success housing Veterans experiencing homelessness.



Upcoming Events
"Opening Doors to Innovation: Improving Client Outcomes Using Housing First"
Wednesday, May 8
1 pm ET 


Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adult Offenders FY 2013 Competitive Grant Application


Due Thursday, May 16

Young Children Without Homes National Conference
Monday, May 20- 
Tuesday, May 21
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