San Francisco Mayor’s Office – Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced that San Francisco housed 110 chronically homeless veterans in the last 100 days, following a reported 30 percent decline in homelessness among veterans since 2011.
“The men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces deserve the greatest respect and dignity for having sacrificed for our country, and San Francisco is committed to making sure our veterans who are returning home get the services they need and deserve, including permanent supportive housing,” said Mayor Lee. “That’s why I’m proud that our City and its partners are making housing for our veterans a priority.”
“We have a solemn responsibility to care for our men and women in uniform, on the battlefield and at home,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “This announcement brings San Francisco one step closer to ending veteran homelessness by 2015. It is the least we can do for those who fight in the name of our security and our freedom.”
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) set an ambitious goal in the 2010 Opening Doors Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are tasked with partnering with local communities to reach this goal. San Francisco shares this reachable goal with a combined effort from the strengths and resources of the local system with those of the VA, HUD and USICH.
In 2013, San Francisco was selected by a joint task force of key communities by the VA, HUD, and USICH to be a part of an intensive and proven model of collaboration called the Rapid Results Veterans Boot Camp. With support from the Rapid Results Institute and 100,000 Homes Campaign, the San Francisco team includes representatives from the VA, HSA, DPH, County Veterans Service Office, Mayor’s Office of HOPE, Swords to Plowshares, San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) and West Bay Housing.
With expert advice from the Rapid Results Boot Camp, San Francisco’s team set the goal of housing 100 chronically homeless veterans in 100 days, ending September 30, 2013 setting a new permanent housing placement rate of 30 chronically homeless veterans per month community wide. The strategic focus on chronically homeless veterans and increased placement rate will puts San Francisco on track to reduce the chronically homeless veteran population to zero by the end of 2015.
“In every community we’ve worked with, attitude is the game changer. You’ve got to have a team on the ground that insists on doing whatever it takes to get our vets into housing,” said 100,000 Homes Campaign Director Becky Kanis. “In the last 100 days, San Francisco has proven that it has that team.”
The local team worked together to streamline and improve the accessibility of a housing program for homeless veterans. HUD VASH operated as a partnership between the VA and the SFHA and to focus HUD VASH only on chronically homeless veterans. However, the team knew that the federally funded HUD VASH program was not enough: chronically homeless veterans would need more resources to meet the goal. Swords to Plowshares, a local non-profit providing short term assistance to place veterans into housing with the Support Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program agreed to also focus on chronically homeless veterans, and all of the participating public, private, and non-profit organizations agreed to share information, work together, and solve problems as a team. At least 110 chronically homeless veterans are now permanently housed and have set the pace to end San Francisco veteran homelessness by 2015.
“This incredible accomplishment demonstrates that with the right resources, determination and cooperation within the community, we can end veteran homelessness once and for all,” said Swords to Plowshares Executive Director Michael Blecker.
In order to maintain the new pace and meet the goal, local homeless veterans need safe, decent housing and landlords who are willing to work with the partnership. The challenge is that veterans are given their HUD-VASH rental assistance voucher faster, but many are still unable to locate an apartment in the currently competitive rental market. Landlords interested in renting to veterans, contact the San Francisco Local Homeless Coordinating Board at the Human Services Agency at 415-557-6007.
Source: SF Mayor’s Office press release, October 9, 2013