Communities that have achieved significant reductions in veteran homelessness generally have something in common: the key stakeholders responsible for addressing the issue meet on a very regular basis.
You may have noticed in a lot of the Alliance materials around veteran homelessness we talk a lot about getting together on a weekly basis with your partners to address the issue. In turn, we have heard a lot of feedback about whether or not such frequent meetings are necessary. Our response is pretty simple: yes, they are. Regular, frequent meetings serve numerous purposes, including keeping everyone on task and allowing for regular assessments of the problem in your community.
Weekly meetings, when done right, with the right people, should be an extremely productive event that might actually free up other time in your week. Including representatives from the local Continuum of Care, Grant and Per Diem programs, SSVF providers, Public Housing Authorities, and the local VA Medical Center will ensure that you have all decision makers and resource holders in the room at the same time.
This will allow you to make regular, timely decisions about a veteran’s housing placement and service needs. Using your master list of homeless veterans, these meetings should be a time to update the list, match veterans with available resources (as reported by the key partners in the room), and get down to the brass tacks of getting homeless veterans into permanent housing.
Meeting frequently will also help to ensure that the goals and timelines your group has laid out (as described in the Five Steps to Ending Veteran Homelessness) are being met and reevaluated as needed. It will also allow all the partners to hold each other and themselves accountable for supplying units and other resources and keeping the master list as up to date as possible, in addition to easing communication and collaboration.
So don’t balk at a weekly calendar commitment, but instead see it as an opportunity to getting the task at hand done! We understand that you are all truly busy and committed people with a lot on your plate (not just veterans!), but remember that the drive to December (the federal goal to end veteran homelessness) will require dedicated time, commitment, and partnership – and these meetings will be a big part of that.