Leaders in New Orleans announced today that the city has ended veteran homelessness.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu reported that New Orleans has housed 227 homeless veterans, exceeding its goal of housing the 193 homeless vets counted in the 2014 homeless census. This effectively brings an end to veteran homelessness in the city.
According to the city’s definition, an end to veteran homelessness means that all homeless veterans who can be located will be placed in permanent housing, or in temporary housing with an identified permanent housing placement within an average of 30 days.
“What New Orleans has accomplished for homeless veterans shows that this is a problem that can be solved,” says Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “In the future, homelessness among New Orleans veterans should be rare and brief. Every city and town in America should take a look at New Orleans and say, ‘if they can do it, so can we.’”
The Alliance has published Community Snapshot of New Orleans, La., an online resource that examines the city’s successful effort to address veteran homelessness. The Alliance recently recognized New Orleans as one of the 14 largest metro areas that had reduced homelessness among veterans by more than 50 percent in three years.
The city adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to end veteran homelessness. The effort centered on key partnerships among numerous agencies and officials, including the mayor’s office, Unity of Greater New Orleans, the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, and area public housing and redevelopment authorities.
The partners met weekly through 2014 to discuss individual veteran’s cases, identify housing, and assign goals. A first step in the initiative was compiling a master list of vets known to be homeless. The team then worked to determine the individuals eligible for Veterans Affairs housing and those who weren't, so they could be aligned with the proper program, reports the Alliance.
The next step was to assign veterans to “navigators” who could assess their needs and take responsibility for the paperwork necessary to get them into an appropriate housing program.
The city’s achievement comes in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homeless by the end of 2015. To date, 312 mayors, six governors, and 71 other county or city officials from across the U.S. have accepted the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.