Monday, June 24, 2013

McDonnell: Homelessness down in Virginia

Good news and better news today from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) who announced that homelessless is down 17 percent in the Commonwealth, not just among the general population but also among military veterans.

The Governor has made reducing homelessness a goal in his administration, and noted:
“Preventing and ending homelessness is a significant component of our ongoing efforts to build a healthy and prosperous Commonwealth, and I am pleased that such positive progress has been made in reducing homelessness in Virginia.

"A focus on this important effort, and shifting some resources from shelters to rapid re-housing, has led to more Virginians living in safe, stable homes. More Virginians today have a place to call home, and that is great news for them and for our entire Commonwealth. However, despite this tremendous progress, we still have much work to do, and that’s why our efforts to further reduce homelessness across Virginia will only increase moving forward. Our work will not be done until all Virginians have a home.”
The Governor's Monday press release:
Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that overall homelessness in the Commonwealth has declined 16 percent from 2010 to 2013 with a 17 percent decrease in family homelessness in the same period.  Of special note is the decrease in homeless veterans, where between 2012 and 2013 there was an 18 percent reduction in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness. The new numbers originate from annual point in time data collected by local Continuum of Care groups across Virginia in January each year and compiled by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Early in his administration, Governor McDonnell issued Executive Order 10 creating a housing policy framework, including policies to more effectively address the issue of homelessness. The resulting Homeless Outcomes Advisory Committee Report and Recommendations set the goal of reducing overall homelessness by 15 percent by 2013. The successful reduction of homelessness can be largely attributed to the shift in focusing resources to rapid re-housing, moving people into permanent housing more quickly while providing appropriate services through community resources.

Senior Economic Advisor Bob Sledd and Dr. Bill Hazel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, spearheaded the Homeless Outcomes Advisory Committee, which identified five primary goals to reach the targeted reduction in homelessness.  The collaborative efforts of many at the state and local levels and working through private and public agencies and organizations, including the National Alliance to End Homelessness, have provided the structure for this successful effort. 

The reductions in homelessness have resulted from shifting some state resources from traditional shelter services to rapid re-housing. Additional resources were provided in the FY2013 budget for rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing with continued support in the FY 2014 budget.

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