Media Contact: Drew Melson
- Virginia’s Crater Region has joined an elite group of 11 communities in the country that have achieved functional zero on veteran homelessness, a milestone that indicates fewer veterans experience homelessness than can be routinely housed in a month.
- This milestone reflects that across the community, a gold standard system of support has been created to ensure veteran homelessness stays rare and brief, even as new veterans experience housing crises.
- The community first reached this milestone in February, and is now focusing on sustaining this reality and expanding these results to the population of people experiencing chronic homelessness.
PETERSBURG, VA — Today, Built for Zero announced that the Crater Region in Virginia has been certified for functionally ending veteran homelessness. It is the 11th community in the country to achieve functional zero for veteran homelessness, a dynamic measure for ending veteran homelessness. The community is now focused on sustaining functional zero for veterans and expanding these results to other populations.
Achieving functional zero for veteran homelessness means that systems are in place to continuously ensure that fewer veterans are experiencing homelessness than can be housed in a month. This certification comes from Built for Zero, a national data-driven initiative of more than 80 cities and counties across the country working to measurably end homelessness, led by the nonprofit Community Solutions.
This is the achievement of a community-wide effort, indicating that the community has created a coordinated, data-driven system that connects homeless veterans to the support they need to exit homelessness soon after they’ve been identified.
“We are incredibly proud that Crater Area has joined the growing number of communities that have functionally ended veteran homelessness,” said Kimberly Tucker, Senior Director of Housing and Homeless Services, at St Joseph’s Villa. “This does not mean that the region’s veterans are no longer facing challenges that may cause them to become homeless. But it does mean that our community has developed a gold standard system of support that ensures homelessness among our veterans is rare overall, and brief when it occurs. The Crater Region has proven it is possible to reach this incredible milestone — now we are focusing on the work of continuing to sustain it.”
A team of eight partners worked together to achieve this milestone, including Veterans Affairs, Virginia Supportive Housing, Serenity, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, St. Joseph’s Villa, District 19 Community Services Board, Push Faith Shelter, and The James House.
The coalition of partners worked together to ensure a data-driven coordinated system is in place to help veterans exit homelessness, particularly critical in the midst of a pandemic for a population at high risk of infection, complication, and even death.
After first reaching functional zero in February, the community’s numbers of veterans experiencing homelessness rose above the threshold in March and April. Their systems are working to sustain functional zero by continuing to quickly identify veterans in need of support and continuously that number down, even as veterans face housing crises.
“We are proud to announce that Crater Region has joined an elite group of communities in the U.S. that have reached functional zero for veteran homelessness,” said Shantae Smith, the community’s Built for Zero coach. “Communities reach functional zero a first time, and then they must continue to reach it over and over again. We are proud that Crater Region has demonstrated that it is possible to reach this milestone, and we look forward to working with them to ensure this remains a sustained reality as they work toward ending homelessness for all.”
MEETING TWO STANDARDS FOR ENDING VETERAN HOMELESSNESS
This milestone builds on an achievement in 2015, when the state of Virginia met the federal criteria and benchmarks for ending veteran homelessness set by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). That marked an important milestone based on a snapshot of how the entire state was performing at the time that it was certified.
“The milestone achieved in the Crater Region of Virginia shows that we are capable of ending homelessness among veterans in every community with close collaboration among public agencies and non-profit partners, continued investments in evidence-based practices like housing first, and an abiding commitment by VA staff and stakeholders in ensuring veterans receive the services and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough. “I look forward to more communities across America achieving and sustaining this milestone as the Biden-Harris administration prepares to roll out a whole-of-government approach to preventing and ending homelessness among veterans in close collaboration with our non-profit partners in the coming weeks.”
Functional zero is a dynamic milestone proving that fewer people are experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed, demonstrating need does not exceed system capacity. The system of support has to be maintained and continually fine-tuned to remain effective.
A SYSTEM DESIGNED TO GET TO ZERO
To achieve functional zero, Crater Region focused on:
- Using real-time quality data. The community has a by-name list, which includes each veteran experiencing homelessness by name and provides real-time insights into their needs.
- Targeting interventions based on real-time data. Using the by-name list, the community targeted solutions in a way that maximized the community’s resources.
- Creating strong collaborations. Partners that serve veterans came together around the shared goal, including nonprofit organizations, and different agencies.
“Homelessness is a community issue and therefore requires the collaboration and commitment of key community stakeholders,” said Chana Amaro, CEO of The James House and Chair of the CACH Board of Directors. “The dedication of our veteran partners and efficiency of our coordinated entry system has guided us towards this success. We’re excited to continue working as a coalition to end homelessness for all populations in the Crater Region.”
“Reaching functional zero for veterans in the Crater Region means the people who served our country aren’t living on the street,” said KeKe Cody, Program Supervisor for Commonwealth Catholic Charities. “As service providers, we’re now equipped to help veterans return to stability, and lead healthy and fulfilling lives. It also means we’re one step closer to achieving functional zero for the general population experiencing homelessness.”
“Through the Virginia Supportive Housing SSVF Program, we work to quickly house veterans experiencing homelessness through our rapid rehousing services,” said Ashley Collins, Supportive Services for Veteran Families Housing Case Manager. “We feel it is so important to give back to the veterans who served our country.”
Built for Zero is a national initiative of more than 80 cities and counties that have committed to measurably ending homelessness, one population at a time. It is led by Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to create a lasting end to homelessness that leaves no one behind. Using a data-driven methodology, these communities have changed how local homeless response systems work and the impact they can achieve. Learn more at www.builtforzero.org or follow us at @BuiltforZero. Media Contact: Bethany Snyder, email@example.com, 425-728-0079
St. Joseph’s Villa is one of the longest-serving nonprofit organizations for children in the country, established in 1834. The Villa changes the lives of 3,000 children and families each year by providing integrated services in housing and homelessness, developmental disabilities, mental health and specialized education, and providing the tools needed for long-term stability and success. Learn more at www.NeverStopBelieving.org. Media Contact: Drew Melson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-553-3318