Leveraging data to provide insight into complex issues surrounding Veteran homelessness


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It’s not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” — W. Edwards Deming

Deming, a well-respected statistician, reminds us that identifying the what is critical in determining how to be successful. Deming is widely known for helping to develop the sampling techniques still used by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

VA has taken a similar approach in working toward its priority goal to end Veteran homelessness, gathering and reviewing data on homelessness that then inform strategies to address it. As a result, the nation saw a nearly 50 percent reduction in the number of homeless Veterans between 2010 and 2016.

For the last four years, VA and partners at the state and community levels have been using a data-driven management platform to determine and update the number of Veterans who are homeless and track those Veterans by name so that they can be served most efficiently and effectively. The platform houses data from multiple sources, including but not limited to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Point-in-Time count and the VA Homeless Registry. This web-based resource, available to homeless program officers at every VA medical center throughout the country, gives VA and its partners the ability to:

  • Seamlessly share strategies and best practices for ending Veteran homelessness.
  • Rapidly gain situational awareness to address emerging needs at the local level.
  • Organize and integrate analysis and planning activities.

Communities that have effectively ended Veteran homelessness — or that are coming close to doing so — are using the data not only to identify where homeless Veterans are, but to also highlight gaps in services that those Veterans may need to exit homelessness.

Veteran homelessness is a multifaceted issue that goes beyond housing. It is rooted in complex causes, including mental health challenges and substance abuse, and it is affected by the state of the economy and availability of affordable housing. With data on services that support Veterans holistically, VA and its partners can see where additional resources may need to be allocated as well as what Veterans in a particular community may need in the future.

These community-level efforts are supported by coordinated federal technical assistance and funding for homeless programs, which include:

VA’s adoption of a data-driven approach linking operational planning to a careful assessment of gaps in services generated significant increases in the annual number of homeless Veterans placed into permanent housing. For instance, in fiscal 2015, the first year of full adoption of this model, VA placed nearly 65,000 homeless Veterans into permanent housing — about a 21 percent increase over the 53,000 of homeless Veterans placed into permanent housing in fiscal year 2014.

This data-driven approach to ending Veteran homelessness helps all of us — national organizations like VA, community groups, and individuals in every corner of the U.S. — ensure that we’re doing our best to give every Veteran a safe, stable place to call home and the resources they need to stay there.

To learn how you can get involved in your community, and to see a full list of the communities that have ended Veteran homelessness, visit va.gov/homeless.


Image of Adam Ruege is a licensed independent social worker Adam Ruege is a licensed independent social worker who serves as the operations liaison in the Homeless Program Office. Ruege is centrally involved in homeless program field operations, and is the national lead in the ongoing development and implementation of the integrated operational planning model employed by VA homeless programs.

 

 

 

Image: Dr. Keith Harris is a clinical psychologist who currently serves as national director of clinical operations in the Homeless Program Office. Dr. Keith Harris is a clinical psychologist who currently serves as national director of clinical operations in the Homeless Program Office. In his role over clinical operations, Harris provides guidance and oversight to the clinical programs and services in the VHA Homeless Program continuum.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Jerry    

    Crap you wiped my not out do to you damn CC I am 82 here and you ode sucks

  2. Walter Davis    

    I am a VietNam War era veteran with four years of service in the US Navy. I have become a snowbird since retiring from the water treatment industry. My travels to and through Florida have opened my eyes to numerous homeless VietNam era vets who make the National Forests their ‘home without a home’.
    Please be advised of this critical issue. All those I’ve met are peaceful, respectful people who lack an address or phone from which they can request assistance. Many present symptoms of mental and emotional issues. They need our help!

  3. Walter Davis    

    Respectfully submitted,
    Walter Davis
    US Navy 08/68-08/72

  4. Lonston Richardson    

    Someone from your office need to investigate the Brooklyn Shelters in NY. Don’t send the NYC Staff(Lazy) send someone from D.C. To talk to Vets. in Barbara Kleinman and BRC Shelters. Why The Vets in Borden Ave. Shelter (With Vouchers are not moving out. holding up other veterans who need help.

  5. Curtis Wadlington    

    Veterans need rental and buying help lime no credit checks and housing conservators. Not checked and told no help or we’ll charge you for it. .

  6. KENNETH BERNARD HARDEN, SR.    

    MY COMMENT ON HOMELESS VETERANS PERIOD WORLD WIDE, IS THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE VETERANS THEIR SELVES. ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE ARE THE MAIN CAUSES OF THE HOMELESSNESS OF ANY VETERAN OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THERE IS HELP AT ALL VETERAN ADMINISTRATION HOSPITALS WORLD WIDE. ALL THE VETERANS HAVE TO DO IS REPORT TO THEIR NEAREST VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL AND ASK FOR HELP AND TELL THEM WHAT PROBLEMS YOU ARE HAVING IN THE AREAS I MENTIONED, ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE. THE DOCTORS AND THE ENTIRE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITALS AROUND THE WORLD WILL THANK YOU FOR LETTING THEM HELP YOU. FROM KENNETH B. HARDEN, SR., 1968 TET OFFENSIVE COMBAT MEDICINE MEDICAL CORPSMAN VIETNAM.

    1. Ronaldo    

      WOW! I have never used drugs or alcohol in my life, and I’m a homeless veteran going on three years; just like that..I’m a full-blown alcoholic and junkie, WOW!

  7. Aaron C J    

    Many combat veterans choose to be homeless, because war opens ones eyes to the hypocracy of corporate America. Life is eating, breathing, raising our children, enjoying the simple things in life. Not the selfish, material driven, consumerism dividing our country. We just want to live and let live without politicians trying to control us and advertisments in our face telling us how and where to spend our money on every corner. A true combat veteran knows how to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the world as it is. Just help us with our cancer and dental needs and we will let the rest of you compete for the biggest house and SUV’s on top of the pedestal. We chose to serve each other and the world not to be corporate servants.

  8. joe    

    ya you dump us…..
    like trash
    and when we dont conform to the states
    way of things and make mistakes
    we are lower than illegal aliens

  9. Damon Wright    

    IF NOT FOR VA, HUD VASH, AND FREEDOMS PATH APARTMENT COMPLEX CHANCES ARE I WOULD NOT BE ALIVE TODAY. DOZENS OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN AND STILL ARE IN MY CORNER. HELP IS OUT THERE. SOME VETERANS ARE TO TO STUBBORN AND PRIDEFULL TO ASK FOR HELP.

  10. Duane wylie    

    I just lost a house and was homeless through the winter months in Minnesota. I asked for help at city human services and they give me an ebt card for food that I can’t eat because I can’t cook it in my car. No ready made food allowed. When I went to Va they gave me medical care for mental health issues, ready made meals while in impatient treatment, help
    With employment barriers, and now help paying my rent until I can support myself. Seems like they are doing a great job to me. However I have to also do things for myself to prevent another bout of homelessness and not expect the Va to know every issue that comes up or hunt me down when I miss appointments. In other words the Va help I’ve received together with helping my self is the most successful formula and the Va is doing a great job in they’re mission to end homelessness.

  11. Craig Northacker    

    The VA has done a great job in tackling a huge problem. There is one very basic critical component that no one likes to confront – the archaic policies of the VBA in determining our p&c. When we are denied comp for injuries sustained in service and can not work it is only a matter of time before we are on the street and quite possibly without family. This hurts our children in many ways, especially if they have physical issues because of our exposures. Agent Orange and GWI denials were criminal because they were contrived by the VA and DoD. The average life span of a WW2 vet is 82 while it is 65 for a VIETNAM vet. And probably the same for GW vets. It is particularly egregious in that when the Veterans Bureau was created in 1921 Charles Forbes became Director & embezzled $200 million in 3 years while denying 85% of WW1 veterans. The VBA has predicated decisions on fraud for almost 100 years. I sat with the head of the OMB in the Oval Office who agreed the costs paid by the rest of the government far exceed what it would cost the VA to do the right thing from the getgo. If the VBA stopped all the spending they do administratively to deny and reverse claims – especially using decision processes illegally rooted in fraud, we’d have a healthier GNP by following the actual law passed by Congress Feel free to reach out to me.

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