Resources and Tools
Overview of VA’s Homeless Programs
This presentation offers a broad overview of the history of homelessness.
There are several VA toolkits available for partners and community members who want to help Veterans and their families experiencing homelessness. In 2016, VA developed additional tailored resources to help partners in the areas of employment and housing most effectively reach Veterans in their communities. Visit the Outreach Tools page to view the following new resources:
- Employment Toolkit
- Housing Toolkit
- Event in a Box
- Get Involved Booklet
- 10 Ways to Prevent and End Veteran Homelessness fact sheet
VA’s National Center on Homelessness also recently released two new guides:
The Housing Navigator Toolkit
The Housing Navigator Toolkit is designed to provide housing navigators, program managers, administrators, staff, and other key stakeholders working to end Veteran homelessness with several resources, tools, and ideas which can be used to help develop or refine local navigator programming.
Permanent Supportive Housing Resource Guide
The second edition of the Permanent Supportive Housing Resource Guide includes a broad spectrum of information relevant to staff working with Veterans in Permanent Supportive Housing. The guide places an emphasis on issues and strategies related to maintenance of housing, community integration and recovery for previously homeless Veteran.
Over the course of 2016, VA published blog posts highlighting innovative programs, strategic partnerships and Veteran success stories. These blog posts are critical to sharing best practices with VA’s network of partners and making Veterans and persons who are likely to encounter them aware of VA programs to help Veterans exit homelessness or remain stably housed. The posts below show how VA programs and partnerships are supporting Veterans in communities across our country:
VA psychologist is ending Veteran homelessness one job at a time
VA created the Homeless Veterans Community Employment Services (HVCES) program in 2014 to make it easier than ever for business and industry to find, interview and hire job-ready Veterans exiting homelessness. In FY 2016, approximately 7,500 Veterans exited homeless residential programs with employment thanks to HVCES.
Enhanced-Use Lease Program offers Veterans a new lease on life
Through the Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) program, VA out-leases underutilized real estate under its jurisdiction or control to the private sector for developing supportive housing for homeless and at risk Veterans and their families. Visit VA’s YouTube channel to learn more.
Partners don’t rest until Veterans’ houses feel like home
VA collaborates with many organizations to help Veterans exiting homelessness acquire furnishings to help make their new living spaces feel like home. One such partnership is VA’s Beds for Homeless Veterans, which provided 2,150 new Serta mattresses and box spring sets, and 2,000 home essential kits to formerly homeless Veterans in 2016.
Oglana Sioux Tribe Veteran among the first to be housed under new tribal HUD-VASH program
Although it has key differences, Tribal HUD-VASH is modeled on the standard HUD-VASH program, which combines HUD rental assistance for homeless Veterans with VA case management and clinical services. Since 2008, HUD-VASH has admitted over 157,800 homeless Veterans to case management.
In addition to the more than 350 Stand Downs hosted over the course of the year, VA hosted a webinar to share information about Operation Reveille with partners and supporters interested in getting involved. Operation Reveille events aim to provide Veterans with the housing and wrap around services they need to successfully exit homelessness — in just one day. This event originated in Tampa, Florida, where local housing officials hosted a one-day event to find homes for as many homeless Veterans as they could.
Stand Downs are collaborative one- to three-day events that provide supplies and services to homeless Veterans. VA partners with the DoD to make a wide range of military surplus goods available to homeless Veterans attending these events. There are a range of services at these events which can include food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, dental services, legal services, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment.
Promoting evidence-based policies, programs, and best practices by disseminating educational resources is an important part of VA’s work to end homelessness among Veterans. Below are a handful of materials published during 2016.
- For eligible Veterans, Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are a critical resource to end and prevent homelessness. To improve access to these benefits among Veterans, VA developed the SOAR Guide for VA caseworkers. SOAR training helps VA caseworkers assist Veterans complete applications accurately and increase the chances they will receive the benefits they have earned. The Guide includes fact sheets, answers to frequently asked questions and a step by step guide to help eligible Veterans apply for SSI/SSDI benefits.
- VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans released three research briefs:
- Migration by Veterans Who Receive VA Homeless Services by Stephen Metraux, PhD. This brief shows the extent to which homeless Veterans migrate across VA’s 21 Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISNs). This permits an assessment of the effect of migration on the homeless populations served by specific VISNs, VA Medical Centers and their catchment areas.
- The Role of Trust, Stigma and Organizational Obstacles Reported by Homeless Veterans, co-authored by Thomas O’Toole, M.D. and Erin Johnson. This brief contains the findings from interviews of 185 homeless Veterans who either were not accessing available primary care or not seeking health care when it was needed.
- Identifying and Serving Veterans Accessing Community-based Homeless Services: A Study of Three U.S. Citiesby Dan Treglia, MPP. Research Brief from Dan Treglia on HMIS matching of Veterans status with VA data.
Special projects underway in FY16 by the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans included:
- Development of a Predictive Analytics/Super-Utilizer Identification and Intervention Program. This program is a collaboration between the VHA Support Services Center (VSSC) and the VA National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, to develop a real time predictive algorithm for identifying homeless Veterans at high risk for being “super utilizers” of acute care services in the next three months. Included in this algorithm are pre-identified evidence-based interventions intended for the Homeless Patient Alignment Care Teams (HPACT) to employ to mitigate this risk.
- Piloting mobile technologies to increase treatment retention. This pilot project tests the use of text messaging to mobile phones to increase treatment retention and care compliance among homeless Veterans enrolled in an HPACT. By conclusion of the pilot, homeless Veterans had a greater than 20 percent reduction in no-shows to clinical appointments and an accompanying decrease in emergency department use. (McInnes et al. Am J Public Health. 2014)
- Initiated Food Insecurity Screening in HPACTs. HPACTs are being used to screen Veterans for food shortages, particularly at the end of the month when supplemental benefits are exhausted. During pilot testing, over 50 percent reported a food shortage in the preceding three months. The majority (52.6 percent) reported averaging two meals per day while 27.3 percent reported having only one meal per day. Using these responses, HPACT teams have been able to mobilize various specialty services.