Today, Houston – the fourth largest city in the country and the city with the second highest population of veterans – became the largest city to date to announce that it had effectively ended veteran homelessness. Mayor Annise Parker made the announcement alongside Secretaries Bob McDonald (Department of Veterans Affairs), Julián Castro (Department of Housing and Urban Development), and Tom Perez (Department of Labor), as part of the secretaries’ three-city tour focusing on how communities can come together to end veteran homelessness.
The theme of the announcement was clear: by working together, many different agencies across Houston were able to deploy resources quickly to house over 3,650 veterans in just over three years. Collaboration in the form of regular (weekly!) coordination meetings, and efforts to align federal, local, and state resources, and a high-functioning coordinated assessment system were key components of the city’s success. Secretary Perez emphasized Houston’s success in breaking down siloes and encouraged communities to take a similar approach to ending veteran homelessness.
These components are similar to what happened and what is happening in other communities experiencing steep declines in veteran homelessness – the key stakeholders are meeting frequently, working collaboratively, leveraging political will and support, and getting veterans into permanent housing quickly and efficiently. The local VA Medical Center, Mayor’s office and Public Housing Authority played a big role in Houston’s success – the homeless service providers certainly did not “go it alone.”
Houston was the first stop for the three Secretaries – they’ll be in Tucson, AZ and Las Vegas, NV this week recognizing those cities’ efforts to reduce veteran homelessness and ability to work together to get the job done. You can follow their action and learn more about Houston’s announcement here. Houston has yet again shown that we can do this – will your city be next?