Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

Washington, DC - Over the last three years, the Administration and our partners in states and communities across the country have achieved a 24 percent decrease in homelessness among veterans, during a time when our country was facing the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In 2010, the Administration set the goal of preventing and ending homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015; today, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the commitment of 77 mayors, 4 governors, and 4 county officials to meet that goal, and called on additional mayors and local leaders to commit to ending veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.

Through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, mayors and other state and local leaders across the country will marshal federal, local, and non-profit efforts to end veteran homelessness in their communities. Ending veteran homelessness means reaching the point where there are no veterans sleeping on our streets and every veteran has access to permanent housing. Should veterans become homeless or be at-risk of becoming homeless, communities will have the capacity to quickly connect them to the help they need to achieve housing stability. When those things are accomplished, our nation will achieve its goal.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have led the Joining Forces initiative’s efforts to give our service members, veterans, and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. Mrs. Obama is announcing today’s challenge because she and Dr. Biden firmly believe that no veteran who has served their country should be left to live on the street. As the mayors who have already signed onto the challenge can attest, this is a principle that can unite – across parties and across communities – bringing all partners to the table to end veteran homelessness.

To aid the mayors in pursuit of the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the federal government has provided resources and enforced programs to strengthen our country’s homeless assistance programs. These resources and reforms, when implemented in local communities, can include:

  • Using a Housing First approach, which removes barriers to help veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible, without unnecessary prerequisites;
  • Prioritizing the most vulnerable veterans, especially those experiencing chronic homelessness, for permanent supportive housing opportunities, including those created through the HUD-VASH program;
  • Coordinating outreach efforts to identify and engage every veteran experiencing homelessness and focus outreach efforts on achieving housing outcomes;
  • Targeting rapid rehousing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, toward veterans and their families who need shorter-term rental subsidies and services in order to be reintegrated back into our communities;
  • Leveraging housing and services resources that can help veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA’s programs get into stable housing;
  • Increasing early detection and access to preventive services so at‐risk veterans and their families remain stably housed; and
  • Closely monitoring progress toward the goal, including the success of programs achieving permanent housing outcomes.

Mayors and dedicated housing and homelessness providers have already demonstrated how the right strategies, combined with a commitment from leadership propelled progress in communities like Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix and Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City have both publicly announced major milestones, including ending chronic homelessness among veterans in their cities.

For more details about the Mayors Challenge, and the list of elected officials who have signed on, visit HUD’s webpage.

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