Every month, an additional dozen or more homeless veterans are identified in Fairfax County. During the winter months, that number can triple. Last winter 94 veterans received overnight shelter though the Hypothermia Shelter Program. Many of these veterans find them themselves unable to cope in our civilian world after leaving a very structured military environment.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova pledged to end veteran homelessness in 2015, joining 19 other jurisdictions across Virginia through a national effort called the Mayors Challenge. Ending homelessness means that we are housing more veterans than are being identified as homeless – we can never truly end homelessness. There are many challenges, including finding enough housing, working with the chronically homeless, as well as addiction and mental health issues.
There is good news.
While we are very close to meeting the Mayors Challenge by the end of the year, the biggest success of this effort has been the rallying of efforts and resources by county government agencies, nonprofits and faith-based organizations to create an effective community-based homelessness response system. This success can be translated into a model for helping our larger homeless community.
- Housing placements have increased 85 percent in 2015.
- Homeless veterans are now identified quickly and the amount of time to receive support services and housing has been reduced to within 90 days.
- Enhanced utilization of federal and state veterans services and resources.