Atlanta Aims to Become First American City to End Chronic Homelessness Among Veterans
Posted September 24, 2012
This May, the 100,000 Homes Campaign teamed up with the Rapid Results Institute, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the US Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development to help communities improve their housing of homeless veterans. We asked 14 communities with high populations of homeless veterans to meet us for training events in three cities across the country. We then issued them a challenge to set an ambitious goal and meet it in just 100 days. All of those communities did exciting work, but Atlanta’s success has been especially remarkable.
Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, pulled together a team that included staff from his office, VA, several local housing authorities, United Way and many others. The goal of the training event was to get these people, who work on the same issues, to sit together around the same table. The team came together and set an ambitious goal of housing 100 homeless veterans in the next 100 days.
To put this goal in context, Atlanta had about 1200 homeless veterans at last count, and about 400 of those were chronically homeless, meaning they face serious health conditions and have typically been on the streets for at least a year. The city had only housed about 60 veterans in the previous 136 days, so success would require the team to more than double the rate at which it moved homeless veterans into housing in roughly 3 months.
The results are incredible.
Not only did Atlanta achieve its goal, it housed 131 chronically homeless veterans in 100 days— more than any other city that took our challenge. The city’s team also increased the percentage of its housing vouchers going to chronically homeless veterans from just 42% to over 90%— one of the best figures we’ve seen in any city in America.
Now, Atlanta is seizing the momentum. Today, at a local affordable housing complex, Mayor Kasim Reed announced his team’s results and pledged that by December of 2013, Atlanta would become the first city in America to end chronic homelessness among veterans.
The reason Mayor Reed’s commitment is so important is that it underscores a larger truth: we can end veteran homelessness when we treat it like a solvable problem. Too often, we get overwhelmed by the numbers and assume there’s nothing we can do, but Atlanta’s success proves otherwise. The last 100 days have surfaced a new sense of what’s possible there and in cities across the country. There’s no going back.
No one who has fought for our country should return home to a life of homelessness, and thanks to Mayor Reed, VA, HUD and the incredibly dedicated local agencies in Atlanta, no one else will.
We’re proud of Atlanta for having our veterans’ 6!