100,000 Homes Campaign Reach Their Goal!

Posted June 10, 2014

Written By: Beth Sandor,

Director of Quality Improvement for Community Solutions

In the spring of 2012, as the lead partner for the Got your 6 Housing pillar, the 100,000 Homes Campaign set an ambitious goal to help communities house 10,000 homeless veterans within 2 years. Six months later, participating communities not only met that goal early, they committed to doubling it. Within a year, more than 20,000 veterans, many of whom had experienced decades of homelessness, had been permanently housed. Today, Community Solutions, which coordinates the 100,000 Homes Campaign, announced that participating communities had reached their broader goal of housing 100,000 homeless Americans in just four years, a number that includes a total of more than 30,000 Veterans nationwide.

That’s a 200% increase since 2012! Here are four reasons why it matters:

It’s personal.

My brother served 13 years in the Army, including time in Afghanistan. As the family member of a veteran, it continues to feel inconceivable to me that we live in a country where it is “normal” for men and women who have served to be found sleeping on the streets, in shelters or in their cars. It doesn’t have to be this way. Every day, at a steady rhythm, communities are housing more and more of our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. When we help a homeless veteran off the streets, we are bringing somebody’s family home, and we are taking another step forward, intentionally and measurably, toward a future where no veteran will ever call our streets home again. Ever.

Setting and achieving ambitious public goals can drive social change.

In 2010, we set out to help communities house 100,000 chronic and vulnerable adults by July 2014 with only a vague sense of how we would get there. We knew the mere act of trying would forever alter our collective response to homelessness as a nation. Public and ambitious goals drive accountability and force those at the helm to rethink strategy, innovate, and reach wide and deep to figure it out. When President Obama and the Department of Veterans Affairs committed to end Veteran homeless by 2015, it wasn’t because the path to success was clear. It was because this was and is something we have to do as a country. The catalytic power of ambitious public goals can shift paradigms. Actually reaching them? That can create lasting and previously unimaginable social change.

We now know what it takes.

All Americans regret veteran homelessness, but many do so with resignation, assuming the problem can’t be solved. But it CAN be solved. In fact, we already know exactly how to solve it. Ending veteran homelessness takes knowing each veteran by name, prioritizing the most vulnerable for immediate housing and support, and removing policy and process barriers that would ask our veterans to jump through hoops or prove themselves before we offer them a place to call home. We must also collect the data that will help us know in real time how many veterans are escaping the streets for permanent housing each month and whether that number puts us on a pace to end veteran homelessness. If the answer is no, then we must be willing to embrace wholeheartedly any new strategy that will put us on track to get to zero. We have no time to waste.

We get to set a new goal – ZERO.

This week, we are celebrating the 100,000 Americans who were once homeless and are now in permanent housing. We are especially celebrating that 30 percent of these are veterans. But there are still 58,000 veterans on our streets each night, and while that number has fallen dramatically over the last four years, we now have just 19 months to end veteran homelessness outright if we are to meet the President’s important challenge to the nation.

Housing 30,000 veterans has demonstrated what is possible, and it has taken all the old excuses off the table. It’s time to finish the job.

Beth Sandor is Director of Quality Improvement for Community Solutions. Learn more about her work at Community Solutions.