Local teams from 25 communities across the country gathered in Washington DC last week to work toward one goal: ending veteran homelessness.
On March 27th and 28th, the teams convened at the 25 Cities Leadership Team Launch, a dynamic, results-focused workshop that kick started a national effort to assist communities in ending veteran and chronic homelessness by December, 2015: the target date set by the federal Opening Doors strategic plan. Communities received coaching in designing their local housing systems to accelerate aligning their existing efforts and resources to meet ambitious and urgent local goals.
The effort is spearheaded by the VA, which contracted with Atlas Research in partnership with Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute to train and support the local teams. We are also working in concert with HUD, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and others who are supporting the effort. The Home Depot Foundation, which sponsored the event, has been a critical partner in this work from the beginning.
“It is really going to take everyone bringing their genius and full capacity to figure out how to do this together,” said Beth Sandor, Community Solutions’ Director of Quality Improvement. “Communities are really experts in this work. Now they can leverage the resources of these federal partners and unleash the capacity that they already have locally to end homelessness.”
During the two-day session, teams from the 25 communities – chosen because they have the highest concentration of homeless veterans – focused on the following:
- Building or strengthening a coordinated system for identifying, assessing and matching homeless veterans to housing
- Integrating data systems to coordinate efforts to end veteran and chronic homelessness
- Integrating the work and assets of the VA with the overall efforts to end veteran homelessness in the community
More than 250 people attended the launch workshop, where they tackled strategic decisions to design or enhance their Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement Systems. Communities will convene local design sessions within 45 days, where they will create ambitious 100-day goals to ultimately accelerate the pace at which they are able to permanently house veterans and people experiencing chronic homelessness in their community. Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute will support these 25 communities through December, 2015 in reaching the goal of ending veteran and chronic homelessness.
“The awesome benefit of time becoming shorter is that it creates a sense of urgency,” said Beth. “That urgency reminds people of how powerful this goal is, of the impact achieving this goal will have nationally and of what the new normal will be around ending homelessness.”