77th Annual Meeting

PREVENTING AND ENDING HOMELESSNESS AMONG VETERANS THROUGH INNOVATIVE HOUSING AND SERVICE STRATEGIES

WHEREAS, the men and women of the armed services have made sacrifices to preserve the freedom of the American people and we have an obligation to care for them; and

WHEREAS, the VA reports that in 2008, women made up 11 percent of veterans returning from OEF/OIF and overall, women make 7.4% of all veterans, and there are increasing numbers of veterans with children; and

WHEREAS, veterans return to live in both urban and non-urban communities; and

WHEREAS, most veterans return and acclimate and live productive lives in this country; and

WHEREAS, some returning veterans, however, face difficulties in their return related to psychological or physical challenges and disabilities, including PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which may make them at greater risk for homelessness; and

WHEREAS, some returning veterans face difficulties maintaining or finding employment, leading to economic instability and the risk of homelessness for veterans and their families; and

WHEREAS, Mayors are committed to supporting returning veterans who are at risk of homelessness and currently homeless veterans, and assuring they have the housing, services and economic stability they need to rebuild their lives; and

WHEREAS, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness advises that each jurisdictional 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness include specific strategies to prevent and end homelessness among veterans and to recognize the importance of targeted VA homeless resources, as well as other federal, state, local and private resources available to support these strategies; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently reported that, on any given night, there are 154,000 veterans who are homeless, and this is a decrease from 195,000 veterans that were homeless the VA reported in 2006; and

WHEREAS, the FY 2007 Draft VA CHALENG report indicates that two of the top 3 unmet needs for homeless veterans are long-term, permanent housing and re-entry services for incarcerated veterans; and

WHEREAS, it has been demonstrated that diverting veterans from jail and prison through the training of first responders and the through the implementation of Veterans Courts can help prevent them from becoming high risk for homelessness; and

WHEREAS, many communities are beginning to adopt these strategies to support these returning veterans, including Pittsfield, MA; Buffalo, NY; Tulsa, OK; Orange and Santa Clara, CA; and are seeing positive results; and

WHEREAS, a 2000 DOJ report indicates there are about 225,000 incarcerated veterans, about 1% of which are women; and WHEREAS it has been demonstrated that discharge planning for incarcerated veterans can help prevent high risk veterans from recidivating and from becoming homeless; and

WHEREAS, coordinated reentry veteran-specific services for eligible veterans is required as part of the response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Initiative FY 2009 Competitive Funding Grant, for which the President's FY 2010 budget proposal calls for an increase to $75 million to provide counseling, job training, drug treatment and other transitional assistance to former prisoners; and

WHEREAS, the VA now has Incarcerated Veterans Reentry Specialists in all its Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN), and states and local jurisdictions have established incarcerated veteran discharge planning and incarcerated veterans outreach; and

WHEREAS, the FY 2009 Federal Budget funds a new $10 million HUD-VA-DOL interagency collaboration for veterans in urban and rural communities for housing and appropriate services to prevent veterans and their families from becoming homeless or reduce the length of time veterans and their families are homeless; and

WHEREAS, decreased veteran homelessness corresponds to the creation of permanent supported housing as the primary intervention; and

WHEREAS, HUD VASH (the joint U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program) has provided Section 8 Vouchers for permanent housing and ongoing treatment services to the harder to-serve homeless mentally ill veterans and those suffering from substance abuse disorders, and enhances the ability of the VA to serve homeless women veterans and veterans' families; and

WHEREAS, ongoing, rigorous evaluation of HUD-VASH indicates that this approach significantly reduces days of homelessness for veterans plagued by serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and offers stability and security to those who have served their country; and

WHEREAS, the FY 2009 Federal Budget funds a $75 million investment for 10,000 new HUD-VASH Vouchers for homeless veterans, veterans at risk of homelessness, and veterans with families, including those returning from OEF/OIF; and NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorses the innovation of training first responders in their communities on the issues faced by returning veterans, and the implementation of Veterans Courts to help divert veterans from jails and prisons to help prevent their homelessness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the US Conference of Mayors endorses expansion of resources for outreach to and discharge planning for incarcerated veterans, including endorsing increased funding to $75 million for the Second Chance Act in the President's 2010 budget proposal, and through the expansion of VA's Incarcerated Veterans Reentry Specialists program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the US Conference of Mayors endorses the new $10 million HUD-VA-DOL interagency collaboration for urban and rural communities; funding to be used for housing and appropriate services to prevent veterans and their families from becoming homeless or reduce the length of time veterans and their families are homeless; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorses the HUD-VASH program as an important investment in ending homelessness among veterans; encourages Mayors to develop specific strategies for Veterans and use these resources in the context of their Ten Year Plans; and encourages the Congress to continue to recognize this resource as critical to help end veteran homelessness.