D.C. On Track to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015
According to an article in The Washington Post, DC is in line with the national plan developed by the Obama administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and several other related agencies to end all veteran homelessness by 2015.
Between August 2013 and March 2014, Veterans NOW, a DC-based coalition of local and federal service providers, succeeded in housing 409 veterans, including 199 chronically homeless veterans. The results from the coalition’s latest campaign will be released soon.
Veterans NOW estimates a total of 1,625 veterans will require housing assistance in order to meet the goal of ending veteran homelessness in DC by 2015.
Jill Carmichael, division director of Housing First at Friendship Place, one of the organizations involved with Veterans NOW, says homelessness frequently strikes the veteran population because of the difficulty they have transitioning to civilian life from the high-stress military lifestyle.
“You come back and there’s untreated mental health, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], trauma,” she explained. “I think going through all of your resources and your support system, eventually you end up in that place where you don’t have anything left.”
With the Veterans NOW program, homeless veterans enter personal information — such as their history of homelessness and their family life — into a universal service prioritization decision assistance tool. Then the veteran is scored to determine whether rapid re-housing or permanent supportive housing is the best solution.
Kurt Runge, director of advocacy at Miriam’s Kitchen, another organization in Veterans NOW, believes this model could be adapted to serve the needs of other members of the homeless population.
“Not only can we end chronic veteran homelessness, but we can end all homelessness,” he said.