Washington County declares end of Veterans Homelessness

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determined that the Washington County and its Suburban Metro Area Continuum of Care (SMAC) partners have effectively ended homelessness among veterans.

What does it really mean?  Reaching functional zero for does not mean another Veteran will never face or experience homelessness.  It means that as a region, SMAC has put a system in place that can identify and respond to Veterans that are experiencing homelessness and quickly get them rehoused.  The USICH has set four benchmarks in order to declare an end to Veteran homelessness.  They include: 1) Veterans have quick access (90 days or less) to permanent housing; 2) the community has no Veterans experiencing chromic or long-term homelessness; 3) the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness who enter service-intensive transitional housing is significantly less than the number entering homelessness; and 4) the number of Veterans exiting homelessness is greater than those entering homelessness, meaning that the community has sufficient permanent housing capacity.  The SMAC communities, including Washington County, met all four of these benchmarks.

So how did we do it?  Through amazing partnerships with our state agencies, counties, and service providers across the entire region. The Veteran Registry is a key contributor to achieving this goal.  Since December 2014, Minnesota has a statewide by-name list called the Homeless Veteran Registry. This system is operated by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans join the Registry by signing a release of information form or by calling a toll-free number (888-LinkVet). Every two weeks, the Washington County CDA and its partners from the SMAC, the VA, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), and other local service providers convene to review and case conference every Veteran added to the Registry. This includes developing housing plans to expedite each Veteran’s housing outcome. The list is updated continuously in real time as Veterans are added to the list or as authorized users update the system.

This milestone achievement was announced during a celebration event, Governor Walz declared November 11, 2020 Suburban Metro Area Continuum of Care Declares End of Veterans Homelessness Day.

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