Fast forward to December 31, 2015, to a the White House Press Room where President Obama is holding a press conference announcing that we have effectively ended homelessness among veterans in our country. This may seem improbable – it is in fact only 360 days away – but we learned in 2014 that it is completely possible.
2015 will be a “nose to the grindstone” year for ending veteran homelessness. There is so much money and so much know-how out in the field right now; we know what works to get veterans permanently housed, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has provided (and will continue to provide) ample funds to make it happen. There are communities that have already accomplished the goal of ending homelessness among chronic veterans – Houston and Phoenix to name a couple – and as communities across the country fan out for their annual Point-in-Time Counts, I have no doubt that we will be hearing from many, many more.
But we’ll also begin hearing from communities that have effectively ended veteran homelessness. Binghamton, NY has already made the announcement, and New Orleans is queued up to announce it this week (much more on that later in a few days).
Hopefully you’re not saying to yourself right now, “well that’s great for them, but it certainly won’t be my community.” If you are, fear not! This year, the Alliance is going full throttle on ending veteran homelessness. We’ll be releasing best practices, community snapshots, and a multitude of other tools to help your community – whether you have 20 homeless veterans or 200 – end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
But for now, we can share what we do know: Those communities that have made the commitment to end veteran homelessness, either through the Mayor’s Challenge or other avenues, are getting the job done. And we’re seeing that ending veteran homelessness is truly a community-wide effort, largely driven by commitments from high-ranking officials in communities like yours and the hard work of dedicated homeless advocates like you.
A couple months ago, we laid out some steps you can take to address veteran homelessness in your community regardless of your role in ending homelessness, and those steps are still relevant. But to get the ball rolling and really make an impact, the first step to ending veteran homelessness is bringing everyone together and then regularly communicating about what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing it.
Stay tuned to the Alliance for more on how you can address veteran homelessness. With a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of collaboration, we can make sure President Obama is standing on that dais announcing we did it!