Alisa Orduña, Program Officer in Housing Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, gives us an update on HUD-VASH efforts to expedite the process for housing homeless veterans.
In L.A., a city not well known for having a cohesive government system, a dedicated workgroup of Angelenos representing public (City and County) and non-profit agencies, have begun working together to alleviate the plight for homeless veterans.
In 2009, the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veteran Affairs launched a joint initiative called the HUD-VASH program to provide subsidized housing to homeless veterans. HUD-VASH is a model of permanent supportive housing. Local housing authorities provide a rental subsidy and the VA provides intensive medical and mental health, vocational, and rehabilitated services for as long as they are needed.
At the local level, HUD-VASH is implemented through a partnership between the V.A. Medical Centers of Los Angeles and Long Beach; the main housing authorities including Santa Monica, Pasadena, City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, and Long Beach; and community based outreach organizations. Since its inception, L.A. has received approximately 2,700 HUD-VASH vouchers.
Implementing HUD-VASH in L.A. created some unique start-up challenges so Community Solutions’ 100K Homes Campaign partnered with Home For Good to host a Housing Placement Boot Camp in June 2011 to facilitate a cross-sector conversation about process improvement. At the end of the workshop, participants set a system-wide goal of 38 days and 23 steps. Click here to read the details on that event.
From this convening, a group of dedicated agency staff from both the public and non-profit sectors began to work behind the scenes in an unprecedented manner to unravel bottlenecks in each agency’s internal practices.
Reconvened in September 2011, this group revealed that it had successfully reduced the HUD-VASH placement process from the June average of 168 days and 47 steps to 100 days and 18 steps-exceeding half of the system-wide goal.
MAJOR SYSTEMS IMPROVEMENTS TO DATE:
- Implementation of a uniform HUD-VASH application across Housing Authorities (created by HACLA & HACOLA).
- Increased discretion among agency managers to create policies that “screen-in” Veterans in the program.
- VA and PHAs flexibility in acceptable forms of identification for enrollment into the HUD-VASH program.
- Information sharing and regular team meetings to quickly resolve challenges.
- Dedicated VA staff assigned to specific geographic communities.
- Consolidation of multiple steps into one appointment.
Lessons learned to-date from this process have been shared with other cities such as New York and Las Vegas, and have been promoted by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (click here for article). Locally, system changes will be applied to other housing programs to expedite their housing placement processes as well.
We are very proud of all of the Boot Camp participants and the many more who joined the efforts within their respective agencies. These partners are well on their way toward meeting the 2011 Home For Good housing placement goal so that close to 1,000 veterans will be Home For Good this year. Stay tuned…
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