Target: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
Goal: Congratulate Virginia for ending homelessness among veterans.
Homelessness has been a major problem among veterans of the U.S. military. Several states and cities have focused on addressing the issue; Virginia has been successful in ending homelessness among its veterans. Having found stable, long term housing for 1,432 veterans since late 2014, Virginia was declared by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to be the first U.S. state to have functionally brought an end to homelessness among military veterans.
The announcement does not mean that no military veteran in Virginia lacks shelter at this time. The designation refers to the state providing shelter and services to more veterans than the number identified as homeless during annual surveys. The state is considered to have no homeless veterans excepting those who turned down offers of housing. Yet even that milestone, the end of so-called “functional homelessness,” is a mark of the increased availability of federal, state, and local government services to homeless veterans, as part of a commitment that housing will be found for a veteran within 90 days of being identified.
This increased effort is part of a broader push by the Obama administration to address the problem, and it has worked to reduce the incidence of homelessness among veterans by 36 percent since 2010, according to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Virginia should be congratulated for leading the way as the first state to bring an end to functional homelessness among veterans.
Dear Governor McAuliffe,
I am writing to congratulate you and the state of Virginia on your efforts to end veteran homelessness. The news that your state has increased its level of government coordination at all levels such that more homeless veterans received shelter over the last year than were identified in total is an important sign of progress in the national effort to end this shameful issue. Virginia has been a significant part of the 36 percent drop in the incidence of veteran homelessness nationwide over the past five years.
Your efforts serve as a source of inspiration and a model as the rest of the country seeks to address how we as a society should support those who serve us in the military upon their return to civilian life. Virginia is leading the way, and other states should follow so that the national rate of veteran homelessness drops to zero. Keep up the good work.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matthew Woitunski