December 17, 2012

Housing our most vulnerable homeless population

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Homelessness affects thousands of people across our Nation.  Many may think that homelessness is impossible to solve.  Not true.  As long as we come together as a country and combine federal resources with those at the local level, ending homelessness IS within our reach.

The 100K Homes Campaign is a grassroots movement bringing communities together to move 100,000 of the most long-term and vulnerable homeless into permanent housing by July 2014.  More than 170 communities have already joined the movement!  One of the main goals of this campaign is to help communities to move 2.5% of their chronic homeless population into permanent housing every single monthto help them beat the growth curve and get on a viable track to ending homelessness. In order to help them achieve this goal, the campaign launched Rapid Results Housing Placement Boot Camps in partnership with HUD, the Department of Veterans Affairs, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Rapid Results Institute.  These ‘boot camps’ form teams of community experts to come together and take a hard look at what they can change and then set an ambitious local goal they will achieve over the next 100 days.

As a result, community leaders in Houston, San Diego, New Orleans and Orlando set ambitious 100-day goals around housing our chronically homeless veterans and set a new standard by housing more than one homeless veteran per day.  One way communities can make a real impact in reducing veterans’ homelessness is through the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program which is a collaborative partnership between HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  To date, the program has provided more than 42,000 homeless veterans permanent supportive housing through rental vouchers provided by HUD along with supportive services and case management by VA.

Another way that communities are implementing the 100,000 Homes Campaign involves mobilizing volunteers to canvass the streets between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. to identify all their homeless neighbors by name.  These communities use a survey called the vulnerability index, which tells them how long someone has been homeless, any health conditions they may have, their name and date of birth.  Using the vulnerability index allows communities to prioritize housing for their most vulnerable population.  In the summer 2012 issue of HUD’s Evidence Matters, HUD highlighted the 100K Campaign and its use of the vulnerability index to assess and prioritize the housing and healthcare needs of our homeless population.

No one ever said ending homelessness was going to be easy, but partnerships like these are making real and measureable progress toward ending homelessness once and for all.

To learn more about the 100K Homes Campaign visit 100khomes.org.

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