This week the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released some encouraging numbers on veteran homelessness. The number of the homeless veterans recorded during the January 2012 PIT count was 62,619. That’s down 7.2 percent from last year’s count.
That number represents a greater than 17 percent reduction compared to 2009 levels, which means that, even though there are still lot of veterans out there who need our help, we’re making real and significant progress. That’s great news, indeed. However, if we are to meet the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, we will need to achieve even more dramatic decreases in the coming years (particularly in 2013 and 2014).
As Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki noted, “This report continues a trend that clearly indicates we are on the right track in the fight to end homelessness among veterans. While this is encouraging news, we have more work to do and will not be satisfied until no veteran has to sleep on the street.
There’s a lot of hard work left to be done. The coming years will be “make it or break it” time in the five year plan to end veteran homelessness. Our success will rely on the provision of a full spectrum of services, from the transitional housing programs and permanent housing programs that congress has robustly funded in recent years, to rapid rehousing and prevention that VA has supported by funding the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program at historic levels.
Speaking of which, VA recently posted a Notice of Funding Availability for the SSVF program, and the Alliance is partnering with the agency on a webinar tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET. Anyone interested applying for funding under the SSVF program should check it out. We’ll be going over the application process and helping current grantees optimize their programs and fine-tune their interventions.
The deadline for SSVF grantee applications is Friday, February 1. So now is the time to put together your applications. For those of you whose organizations have received HPRP grants that are expiring, remember: the SSVF grant is modeled after HPRP; your experience with rapid rehousing will be an asset in applying for this grant to help veterans and their families.