Can boot camps get communities in shape to fight Veteran homelessness? Several cities are about to find out.
This month, San Diego, Orlando, and Houston hosted Rapid Results Housing Boot Camps to build grass-roots responses to the problem of Veteran homelessness.
The two-day boot camp sessions taught those already helping homeless Veterans in their communities new and more efficient ways to house Veterans. They developed plans to address the unique nature of Veteran homelessness in their cities and developed strategies for cutting through red tape to obtain the resources that Veterans need.
Communities were encouraged to set ambitious, 100-day goals to expedite the delivery of housing to all homeless Veterans. Tactics to meet the goals may include reducing the number of days needed to process shelter applications or improving housing-related service delivery in other ways.
National and local experts—including representatives from VA—are working together to provide communities with the tools, funding, and resources needed to meet the goals. Boot camp participants, in turn, closely track their own progress in meeting the targets.
Based on similar housing placement events co-created by 100,000 Homes, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles the boot camp sessions apply business management strategies to speed the process of housing Veterans. According to 100,000 Homes, participants at the previous events used the techniques to reduce the number of days spent processing Veteran applications for housing by up to 40 percent.
Duplication of these results in Rapid Results Housing Boot Camp communities and other localities will help edge VA closer to its goal of ending Veteran homelessness by 2015. In 2011, on a given night, more than 67,495 Veterans were homeless in the United States.
Experts from VA, HUD, U.S. Interagency Council for Homelessness, public housing authorities, Continuums of Care, and Veteran-serving nonprofits attended the boot camps to offer technical assistance. A centerpiece of the training is building each community’s capacity to win a share of $75 million in federal Veteran housing assistance available through the 2012 HUD-VASH program.
Boot Camps occurred in:
- Orlando, Fla., serving Alachua County and Gainesville; New Orleans and Kenner, La.; and the state of Georgia
- Houston, Texas serving Houston, San Antonio, and Harris County, Texas; Texas Valley Coastal VAMC; and Detroit
- San Diego, California serving San Diego; San Francisco; and Tucson, Arizona
If you are a Veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless contact VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to speak to a trained VA responder, or visit us online.
Pete Dougherty is the Acting Executive Director of VA’s Homeless Veterans Initiative Office.