VA 25 Cities Initiative
In March 2014 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the 25 Cities Initiative to assist communities with high concentrations of homeless Veterans in intensifying and integrating their local efforts to end Veteran homelessness.
The initiative concluded in September 2016, but contributed significantly to the recent progress in ending Veteran homelessness. Between 2014 and 2016, the 25 cities that participated in the initiative experienced a 22% reduction in Veteran homelessness.
Between January 2015 and August 2016, 29,499 Veterans were housed across the 25 targeted cities. Each city has developed a list that identifies all homeless Veterans by name so they can be linked to the appropriate services. From January 2015 until the initiative ended, each of 25 cities housed an average of 58 Veterans per month.
However, there are still approximately 40,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness across the nation, who are still in need of assistance. VA remains committed to the goal of ending Veteran homelessness. VA and our Federal, state and local and non-governmental partners recognize that ending Veteran homelessness is not a single event in time, but rather is a deliberate effort towards achieving the goal, and then continued follow-on efforts to make sure that the goal is maintained.
This initiative was a joint effort by VA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and local community partners to support the 25 communities with resources, guidance, and lessons learned as they build out and enhance their existing local homeless programs. Through the initiative, VA and its federal partners worked to identify, by name, all of the remaining known homeless Veterans in their respective communities and worked to find permanent housing solutions for these Veterans and for other chronically homeless individuals.
The 25 Cities Initiative was not meant to replace existing programs, but instead, aimed to help each community integrate existing programs, while also accelerating local initiatives and plans already underway. This initiative recognized that ending Veteran homelessness requires strong coordination between all partners and stakeholders who are working to end homelessness in a community. A concerted effort was made to strengthen identification, prioritization, and matching services for homeless Veterans, while improving existing intake data reporting so that homeless Veterans can be better paired with available services. Currently, every locality is using one common assessment tool to streamline this process.
Participants in the 25 Cities Initiative include – Atlanta • Baltimore • Boston • Chicago • Denver • Detroit • Fresno • Honolulu • Houston • Las Vegas • Los Angeles • Miami • New Orleans • New York City • Orlando • Philadelphia • Phoenix • Portland • Riverside • San Diego • San Francisco • Seattle • Tampa • Tucson • Washington, DC
Highlights of success:
- All 25 cities have a Coordinated Entry System in place to connect and navigate Veterans who enter the system to the housing services they need in a timely manner.
- All 25 cities have developed a By-Name List that identifies all homeless Veterans in their communities by name so they can be found and linked to the appropriate services.
- All communities are working with VA to ensure optimal data sharing, regular By-Name-List updating, case conferencing, and Veteran status verification.
- Four communities were approved and recognized by the White House, VA, HUD, and USICH for having effectively ended Veteran homelessness in their communities: New Orleans, Houston, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia
- Three effectively ended chronic homelessness among Veterans: New York City, Boston, and Orlando
On October 20, 2016, the VA and its partners hosted Commending Your Journey to celebrate the accomplishments of the 25 Cities project and the contributions to ending Veteran homelessness in communities across the country. The meeting provided a forum for sharing lessons learned and to explore ways forward in the effort to end Veteran homelessness. These posters (linked below) were displayed to highlight and exhibit each community’s processes, outcomes, accomplishments, and plans for sustaining the momentum of the 25 Cities project in the future.
If you are or know of a homeless Veteran, please visit your local VA Medical Center (VAMC) for the care and services VA offers Veterans. A list of VAMCs can be found online at: www.va.gov/directory.
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Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can call or visit their local VA Medical Center (VAMC) and ask for a Homeless Coordinator. Use the VA locator tool www.va.gov/directory to find your nearest VAMC and call or visit today.