RICHMOND – Today Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been certified by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as the first state in the nation to functionally end veteran homelessness. Speaking at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial alongside U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Governor McAuliffe declared that Virginia has housed 1,432 homeless veterans since October 2014.
“On a day when we remember those who fought and died for our nation, I am proud to proclaim that Virginia is leading the way in the fight to end veteran homelessness,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This is an important victory in our ongoing efforts to make our Commonwealth the best place on earth for veterans to live, work and raise a family. However, we must remain committed to keeping homelessness among veterans, and, all Virginians, rare, brief and non-recurring. This successful effort will serve as the launching pad for our next goal of functionally ending chronic homelessness among all Virginians by the end of 2017.”
The announcement is the culmination of efforts that began when Governor McAuliffe committed Virginia to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessnessin June 2014 and pledged to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Since signing on, 20 mayors and county chairs throughout Virginia have publicly declared their commitment to achieving the goals of the Mayor’s Challenge, and communities throughout Virginia have successfully housed veterans through two consecutive 100 Day Challenges in partnership with Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute.
Communities throughout Virginia have made vast improvements in their homelessness response and housing assistance systems. By using evidenced-based tools for triaging the needs of identified veterans, making both rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing resources available, as well as incorporating the principles of Housing First throughout the entire spectrum of housing assistance for a veteran, these systems have been streamlined to help a veteran experiencing homelessness to quickly secure permanent housing.
The availability and provision of supportive services to help veterans maintain stability within their new homes have been equally critical in this effort. By implementing efficient homelessness response systems across the state, Virginia has ensured that any veteran’s experience with homelessness either now or in the future will be rare, brief, and non-recurring.
The effort to end Virginia homelessness relied on partnerships with regional Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, local housing continua of care (CoC) providers, Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) programs and local public housing authorities. The increased level of coordination, collaboration, and communication at the state level among such partners as the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Housing Development Authority, Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness.
Key federal partners included: the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Labor (DOL).
“Virginia is grateful to have such collaborative relationships with our community based, state and federal level partners,” said John Harvey, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “We must remain committed to effectively and freely communicating and collaborating in order to keep our veterans homelessness response and housing assistance systems fully functional and sustainable over the long haul”.
Additionally, by engaging with non-traditional partners, such as Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power Company, Virginia is continuing to expand the depth of the supportive networks in place to help veterans to continue living in their homes.