VA Homeless Programs
Berkeley Food and Housing Awarded for Service to Veteran
A Partner Success Story in Ending Veteran Homelessness
Permanent housing that’s also affordable isn’t always easy to come by. And for homeless Veterans trying to get back on their feet, it’s essential.
In the years since the national priority to end Veteran homelessness nationwide was announced in 2010, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been working hard to make sure Veterans have all the resources they need to thrive and obtain permanent, affordable housing — but this challenge can’t be solved by one organization alone. To support Veterans who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless at every corner of the nation, the efforts of organizations at the state and community levels are needed. And that’s where groups like the Berkeley Food & Housing Project in California come in.
The Berkeley Food & Housing Project (BFHP) became part of the solution when the organization applied for and was accepted into VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program in 2014. SSVF provides organizations like BFHP with funding to help homeless Veterans attain and retain safe, stable housing.
BFHP operates on the creed that everyone has a “basic right to food, housing, and stability.” And for the past three years, the organization has taken steps alongside VA and local Veterans to help make that a reality for them (even if those steps have led across California state lines).
It was early this year that Paul, a VA case manager, began assisting a Veteran who had been experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity for many years. After Paul found out about VA’s connection with BFHP, he worked with BFHP case manager Kyle to get the Veteran set up with assistance.
In working together, it became clear that the Veteran would be best served by VA’s pilot program called the Returning Home Initiative. This initiative helps Veterans who have been unsuccessful in securing housing in California’s expensive housing market by relocating them to an area where they are able to take advantage of support systems, access services, and have a better overall chance of being successful in obtaining permanent housing. When it was time for the Veteran to enter permanent housing as part of the initiative, BFHP and VA secured a place in Arizona and made arrangements for his move.
Kyle and the rest of the BFHP team also made themselves available to the Veteran 24/7 as he drove across California and into Arizona — even intervening at one point to convince him not to turn around, which would mean giving up all the progress he had made thus far.
Because BFHP stayed committed to the cause and attentive to the Veteran’s needs, the Veteran ended up with a new home and the right care to help him stay on track. After the Veteran was settled in, BFHP connected him with a local Veterans group in Arizona to make sure he continued to receive consistent and personalized assistance. BFHP also followed up with all agencies involved in the Veteran’s care to ensure he wasn’t left behind.
In recognition of these efforts, BFHP was recently awarded the I CARE Commitment Award by the Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) 21 Homeless Coordinators.
Through partnerships like these that make permanent housing accessible to those who otherwise may not be able to grasp it, an end to Veteran homelessness can be realized — not just in Arizona and California, but in all communities.
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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.