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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Best Practices: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Requests Collaboration with SSVF Grantees and Community Partners

In October 2013, the Blue Water Center for Independent Living’s (BWCIL) Project Home was awarded a grant from the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in a seven county rural area. The program was designed to provide rapid rehousing for homeless Veteran families and homelessness prevention services to Veteran families facing eviction and utility disconnection.

In 2016, the VA required that SSVF grantees form collaborative groups in their service delivery areas to ensure enrolled Veterans received comprehensive case management services in housing, veteran service connected/non-service connected benefits, medical, mental health, substance use counseling, etc. 

As a result, the St. Clair County Veterans Task Force was formed with BWCIL as its chair. This collaborative includes organizations such as the local county Veteran Affairs Office, Department of Rehabilitation Services; Housing Commission; medical and mental health agencies, the homeless shelter, health and human services, and VA HUD-VASH office.

The mission of each community collaborative across the country is to create a Master List of all Veterans in their community experiencing homelessness, a critical element to achieve the goal of ending Veteran homelessness.

A Master List can help:

  • Identify by name all Veterans experiencing homelessness
  • Track the status and progress toward permanent housing of each Veteran
  • Coordinate housing and services among community providers
  • Measure progress toward the goals of ending homelessness among Veterans
  • Identify key barriers to goal attainment and opportunities to resolve them

In addition to the list, other criteria and benchmarks serve as important indicators of how effective the system is working and the community response to homelessness. This interdisciplinary approach takes full advantage of each agency’s expertise and ensures that daily needs are promptly met for each Veteran. The goal is to achieve and sustain a well coordinated and efficient community system that assures homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring, and that no Veteran is forced to live on the street.

Communities that believe they have met the criteria and benchmarks can seek confirmation of their achievement through a formal interagency process by first contacting one of their local federal representatives at Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), or the VA. For more information, go to: www.vetsuccess.gov or va.gov (anything pertaining to SSVF University).

Sharon Washington

Veteran Housing Specialist, Blue Water Center for Independent Living

Co-Chair, NCIL Veteran Subcommittee

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