Ending veteran homelessness isn’t just possible...it’s happening.

Posted March 31, 2014

Written by: Becky Kanis Margiotta, 100K Homes Director

Community Solutions’ 100,000 Homes Campaign is proud to be one of the lead activation partners of the Got Your 6 Campaign. Having graduated from West Point and served as an active duty officer in the U.S. Army for nine years myself, I am well aware of the tremendous capacity of veterans to contribute to society beyond their military service, both through my own efforts and the many veterans who are contributing to the success of the 100,000 Homes Campaign.

On the streets, however, veterans also face unique challenges. We know from the data that they tend to stay homeless longer, for example, perhaps due to a learned commitment to survival and self-sufficiency. We also know that they are often much more medically vulnerable than their homeless peers. Sometimes, this vulnerability is due to injuries sustained in wartime, especially traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Other times, it has to do with exposure to the elements and a host of other challenges that come with experiencing homelessness.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a grassroots movement of over 235 communities working to find and house 100,000 of the most long-term and vulnerable people off the streets of America by July of 2014, including at least 20,000 homeless veterans. Our theory of change is simple: the best way we can end homelessness as a society is to close the gap between what is proven to work and what is actually being done on the ground in so many communities.

There are two practical things that we help every community that enrolls in the 100,000 Homes Campaign do:

  1. Proactively canvass their streets between 4am and 6 am for three days in a row to compile a by-name and -photograph list of every person experiencing homelessness
  2. Help each community improve the speed with which they are housing their most long-term and vulnerable homeless neighbors off the streets, typically from a starting average of 1.6 percent of this group per month to at least 2.5 percent per month. It may sound nerdy, but at a sustained monthly rate of 2.5 percent, communities are ahead of the curve and squarely on the path to ending chronic and vulnerable homelessness within four years.

While it sounds simple, accomplishing these two goals requires hundreds of people who do not work for the same organization to coordinate and cooperate, to be transparent about their performance, and to make adjustments when the data indicates that what they were doing isn’t having the results they intended. A large-scale change effort like the Campaign requires vision, true concern for our fellow human beings, and an uncompromising commitment to results.

In other words, we need every community to show leadership—something most veterans understand right away.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign is grateful to have received nearly half a million dollars in funding support from our partners in the Got Your 6 Campaign. Together, we made a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to work with our participating communities and our partners at the Department of Veterans Affairs to help 20,000 of the most long-term and vulnerable homeless veterans find permanent housing. At 23,896 veterans housed, we’re proud that we’ve already surpassed this ambitious goal. At the same time, veteran homelessness is dropping throughout the country and has fallen more than 50 percent since 2007. Efforts like ours and those of our many partners are having an impact as we all work to make sure every American has a home.

I invite anyone who would like to help to learn more at our website, www.100khomes.org. Ending veteran homelessness isn’t just possible…it’s happening.