WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 29, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — We have been using the word “historic” a lot since Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the Five-Year Plan to End Veteran Homelessness at the end of 2009.
Yet, at the Renaissance Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C., March 27-28, there seemed to be no better way for participants to describe a special conference for local leaders who share a common goal – developing a coordinated community approach to ending and preventing veteran homelessness in their communities.
VA National Center for Homelessness Among Veterans Director Vince Kane said during the opening session he had never seen the leadership of 25 major cities together in one place to work on this issue. He used “historic” on several occasions, as did The Home Depot Foundation Director of Programs Kendall McCarthy. The Home Depot Foundation, the VA, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness sponsored the 25 Cities Initiative Leadership Launch.
Community Solutions, Atlas Research and Rapid Results Institute provided the event planning, coordination, subject matter expertise, and training facilitation support to make the launch a success. They will be the critical technical assistance partners for the cities participating in the Initiative.
Leadership teams representing some of the nation’s largest population centers sealed themselves away for two days to begin the process of planning coordinated assessment and housing placement systems to spur the success of the campaign to end veteran homelessness. It was clear from the outset, however, these systems will serve all homeless families and individuals. And they will serve as guideposts for what Secretary Shinseki calls the “prevention mission” in the campaign long after 2015.
Each team included VA Medical Center Directors, Public Housing Authority directors, Continuum of Care (CoC) representatives and community-based organizations serving veterans in crisis.
The agenda was an ambitious mix of overviews in general session, detailing the key components of coordinated community assessments to ensure referral of clients to the appropriate service partners and level of services they need, and innovative housing placement systems to get clients into housing as efficiently and quickly as possible. The need to share and leverage data in coordinated service delivery systems was a constant theme.
Leadership teams also had the opportunity to participate in strategy sessions mapping the current level of service coordination in their communities, and discussing the gaps in service delivery that need to be addressed to improve their community-wide systems of care.
In preparation for the implementation phase of the initiative, groups chose the leader for their respective Leadership Team and worked on drafting initial plans for their community-based launches.
At the NCHV Annual Conference
The VA 25 Cities Initiative will be featured at the NCHV Annual Conference, May 28-30, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. Service providers will be able to learn how to become fully involved in their city’s coordinated community assessment and housing placement systems.
Participants in the 25 Cities Initiative – Atlanta • Baltimore • Boston • Chicago • Denver • Detroit • Fresno • Honolulu • Houston • Las Vegas • Los Angeles • Miami • New Orleans • New York City • Orlando • Philadelphia • Phoenix • Portland • Riverside • San Diego • San Francisco • Seattle • Tampa • Tucson • Washington, DC
The Annual Membership Meeting and Public Policy Forums will offer attendees an up-close look at priorities in the NCHV Policy Strategic Plan, and the opportunity to weigh in on issues that will impact the transition from the “rescue mission” to the “prevention mission” in the campaign to end veteran homelessness. Increasing access to affordable housing, employment and health services are all on the table. And we will discuss the local angle to national policy issues – this is where service providers can be the most impactful in the advocacy arena.
During the NCHV Annual Awards Banquet the evening of May 29, The Home Depot Foundation and NCHV will present the first Peter Dougherty Award for Veteran Supportive Housing, named for the former VA Director of Homeless Programs and chief advisor to seven Secretaries of Veterans Affairs. Dougherty, now Sheriff of Jefferson County, West Virginia, will help present the award. The recipient organization will receive a $50,000 grant from the Foundation to honor its contribution to creating supportive housing for homeless veterans and their families.
We will send out more information and updates as developments warrant. Registration for the conference is brisk, so don’t wait to submit your registration form for the 2014 NCHV Annual Conference. You can access those forms here.