Can We Finish the Job of Ending Homelessness Among Veterans in California?

Majority of California Continuums of Care Recently Reported
Not Having Sufficient Resources to Move Homeless Veterans into
Permanent Housing Using a Housing First Approach 

A brief prepared by Joe Colletti, PhD and Sofia Herrera, PhD   

-Hub for Urban Initiatives 

As we await data for 2017 to be released, a comparison of the number of veterans who were counted as homeless in California in 2016 reveals that the number of veterans has significantly decreased during the 10 previous years. The number of veterans decreased from

  • 23,500 in 2006 to 9,612 in 2016, which represents a decrease of 13,888 or 59.1%.  

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asked Continuums of Care (CoCs) the following three questions within a subsection of the recently submitted 2017 Continuum of Care (CoC) Program application that focused on progress towards ending homelessness among veterans:

  • Does the CoC use an active list or by name list to identify all Veterans experiencing homelessness in the CoC?
  • Is the CoC actively working with the VA and VA-funded programs to achieve the benchmarks and criteria for ending Veteran homelessness?
  • Does the CoC have sufficient resources to ensure each Veteran is assisted to quickly move into permanent housing using a Housing First approach? 

Nearly all (85%) of the 40 California CoCs answered “yes” to the first question above about using “an active list or by name list to identify all Veterans” and all (100%) answered “yes” to the second question about “actively working with the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) and VA-funded programs” as noted in the table below.  

Only 40% of the 40 California CoCs answered “yes” to the third question above about “having sufficient resources” to quickly move each veteran “into permanent housing using a Housing First approach” also noted in the table below.[1] 

The importance of these questions stems from an impressive goal to end homelessness among veterans announced by the federal government in late 2009. The plan to carry out the goal was outlined in 2010 in Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which was developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).[2] 

The plan set forth a number of priorities and strategies to prevent and end homelessness including among veterans and were tied to line items in the federal budget for the past several years. Two successful programs that have been receiving funding to help prevent and end homelessness among veterans were the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program.  

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program “combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs) and community-based outreach clinics.”[3]

The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program provides “a broad range of services to very low-income Veteran families residing in or transitioning to permanent housing. These services may include outreach; case management; assistance obtaining VA and other benefits; and temporary payments for rent, moving expenses, child care, transportation and other costs associated with helping Veteran families stay in or acquire permanent, stable housing.”[4] 

            Next Steps 

Next steps include finding out why each California CoC answered “yes” or “no” to the question 

  • Does the CoC have sufficient resources to ensure each Veteran is assisted to quickly move into permanent housing using a Housing First approach? 

Having representatives from California CoCs knowledgeable about why their CoC answered “yes” or “no” in the same room sharing why with one another, will likely help those CoCs who answered “no” to plan on taking next steps to help them identify and obtain sufficient resources. Also, having federal partners such as the VA and HUD in the same room listening and engaging the CoC representatives will likely help them take the next steps to identify and obtain sufficient resources.  

The USICH is in the process of “gathering stakeholder input” to “revise and strengthen” the Opening Doors strategic plan to include what has been learned about preventing and ending homelessness including among veterans. The USICH updated and amended the plan in 2012 and in 2015 and plans on releasing another update based on stakeholder input in early 2018. 

Urban Initiatives is supporting the efforts of the USICH by helping to convene another meeting of the Southern California Alliance of CoC Leaders in November, which meets periodically throughout the year. The Alliance consists of the 13 CoCs that make up Southern California. USICH, HUD, VA, and Health and Human Services (HHS) will be the federal partners gathered with the CoC leaders during the meeting. Together they will engage one another to help revise and strengthen the priorities and strategies identified in Opening Doors regarding veterans and other subpopulations of persons who are homeless including youth, families, and persons who are chronically homeless. 

This engagement will also help the Southern California CoCs strengthen their annual CoC Program applications submitted to HUD and other federal, state, and local applications. Together, the Southern California CoCs receive approximately $200 million dollars in CoC Program funding (Los Angeles City and County CoC receives half of this funding) for approximately 400 programs operated by a wide-range of public and private organizations throughout Southern California. CoC leaders will report to their CoC membership. 

Urban Initiatives is also supporting the efforts of the USICH by helping to convene in November a meeting of the California Central Valley CoCs, which consists of six CoCs. Representatives knowledgeable about their 2017 CoC Program application will be engaging one another and invited federal partners to help revise and strengthen the priorities and strategies in Opening Doors regarding veterans and other subpopulations. They will also have the opportunity to strengthen their annual CoC Program applications to HUD and other federal, state, and local applications and report to their CoC membership.  

Urban Initiatives wants to encourage other CoCs to support the efforts of the USICH by convening similar meetings if the CoC has not yet done so. Urban Initiatives also wants to encourage other CoCs to continue to support the efforts of HUD, VA, HHS, and other federal partners to prevent and end homelessness among all persons in our communities. 

Table 1: California Continuums of Care and 2017 Continuum of Care (CoC) Program application questions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Continuum of Care:

Does the CoC use an active list or by name list to identify all Veterans experiencing
homelessness in the CoC?

 Is the CoC actively working with the VA and VA-funded programs to achieve the
benchmarks and criteria for ending
Veteran
homelessness?

 Does the CoC have sufficient
resources to ensure each Veteran is assisted
to quickly move into permanent housing
using a Housing First approach?

 

 

 

 

 

CA-500

San Jose/Santa Clara City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-501

San Francisco CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-502

Oakland, Berkeley/Alameda County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-503

Sacramento City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-504

Santa Rosa, Petaluma/Sonoma County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-505

Richmond/Contra Costa County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-506

Salinas/Monterey, San Benito Counties CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-507

Marin County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-508

Watsonville/Santa Cruz City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-509

Mendocino County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-510

Turlock, Modesto/Stanislaus County CoC

no

yes

no

CA-511

Stockton/San Joaquin County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-512

Daly City/San Mateo County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-513

Visalia/Kings, Tulare Counties CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-514

Fresno City & County/Madera County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-515

Roseville, Rocklin/Placer, Nevada Counties

no

yes

yes

CA-516

Redding/Shasta County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-517

Napa City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-518

Vallejo/Solano County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-519

Chico, Paradise/Butte County CoC

no

yes

no

CA-520

Merced City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-521

Davis, Woodland/Yolo County CoC

no

yes

no

CA-522

Humboldt County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-523

Colusa, Glen, Trinity Counties CoC*

-

-

-

CA-524

Yuba City/Sutter County CoC

no

yes

yes

CA-525

El Dorado County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-526

Tuolumne, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa Counties CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-527

Tehama County CoC**

yes

yes

yes

CA-529

Lake County CoC*

-

-

-

CA-530

Alpine, Inyo, Mono Counties CoC*

-

-

-

CA-600

Los Angeles City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-601

San Diego City and County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-602

Santa Ana, Anaheim/Orange County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-603

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-604

Bakersfield/Kern County CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-606

Long Beach CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-607

Pasadena CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-608

Riverside City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-609

San Bernardino City & County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-611

Oxnard, San Buenaventura/Ventura County CoC

yes

yes

no

CA-612

Glendale CoC

yes

yes

yes

CA-613

Imperial County CoC

no

yes

no

CA-614

San Luis Obispo County CoC

yes

yes

no

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total “Yes”:

34

85%

40

100%

16

40%

 

Total ”No”:

6

15%

0

0%

24

60%

 

Total:

40

100%

40

100%

40

100%

*Did not submit a 2017 Continuum of Care Program application.



[1] HUD noted the following on page 9 of the 2017 Continuum of Care Program application: Use a Housing First approach. Housing First prioritizes rapid placement and stabilization in permanent housing and does not have service participation requirements or preconditions. CoC Program funded projects should help individuals and families move quickly into permanent housing, and the CoC should measure and help projects reduce the length of time people experience homelessness. Additionally, CoCs should engage landlords and property owners, remove barriers to entry, and adopt client-centered service methods.

[2] https://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/USICH_OpeningDoors_Amendment2015_FINAL.pdf.

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