Homeless Veterans and Advocates Gather in D.C. to Address New Challenges

Pete Dougherty of thgoing collaborative efforts with HUD to plan for thee U.S. Veterans Administration also spoke during the June 5th “Focus on Public Policy Issues” session, informing the audience of the VA’s on permanent supportive housing needs of veterans. In addition, Mr. Dougherty noted that the VA has been authorized to hire 21 network-level coordinators to improve access to services for incarcerated veterans.

Women veterans who have experienced multiple traumatic events, Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and trying to rebuild their lives – these are just two of the many challenges addressed at the 11th annual National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) conference on June 5th and 6th in Washington D.C. The theme was “Challenges of a New Era,” alluding to many new challenges, such as the rising number of women veterans and the increasing number of returning veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF), particularly the number of veterans who are returning with sustained injuries and disabilities that we did not have the capacity to treat in previous wars.

The conference provided an opportunity for close to 300 veterans, providers, advocates, and government officials to come together to discuss current policy and funding related to homeless veterans, hear about innovative and promising models, and learn practical information about accessing funding, developing programs, serving and advocating for the needs of homeless veterans. The atmosphere was one of passion, pride in a rich history of dedication and service, and great hope for the future. Conference activities included a moving performance by the Voices of Hope choir, affiliated with the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training.

Among the speakers was Mark Johnston, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who spoke about the importance of including veteran representatives in the Continuum of Care process. He urged attendees to contact their local HUD field office if they were not already engaged in their local Continuum. Mr. Johnston also featured the HUD Vet Resource Center, which provides referrals to any Veterans that are looking for housing.

Presenters during this session updated attendees on recent or pending legislation and prepped them for Capitol Hill visits later in the week. The public policy agenda developed by NCHV was also presented, which includes a focus on :

  • Providing access to health care
  • Ensuring income security
  • Supplying affordable housing
  • Preventing homelessness

Additional resources:

National Coalition for the Homeless Veterans' (NCHV) website
Risk and Protective Factors for Homelessness among OIF/OEF Veterans
Produced by Swords to Plowshares Iraq Veteran Project
Ending Homelessness Among Veterans Through Permanent Supportive Housing
A product of the Policy Leadership Dialogue event convened by the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) and Volunteers of America.

Publication Date: 
Newton, MA, USA