Veteran homelessness organization advocates for broad spectrum of vets

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Thirty years ago a group of veterans came together because too many veterans were experiencing homelessness, and in communities across the country too few resources were available to assist them. The result of their shared concern was the creation of an organization, now known as the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV.)

The founders decided the organization would focus on shaping public policy, promoting collaboration, and building the capacity of service providers across the country, in order to best assist homeless veterans.

In the 30 years that have followed, NCHV has been involved in the creation, amendment and funding increases of nearly every federal program dedicated to assisting veterans experiencing, and at-risk of, homelessness.

NCHV has also been at the heart of efforts to promote interagency collaboration at the national and local level, and to promote collaboration between organizations dedicated to veterans and the broader social safety net across the community.

The organization has also created training opportunities for service providers across the country, to improve their ability to help unsheltered and sheltered veterans realize their potential as they move on to permanent housing and the ability to thrive in their own community.

The past informs the present and the future.

Now in its 30th year NCHV notes, “We have focused on the past while building for a future which takes into account several key realities.

“First, while veteran homelessness has decreased by 50 percent in the last decade, we are facing a severe affordable housing shortage, and a tight labor market that will complicate efforts to connect veterans to an income. We know that the impacts the COVID pandemic will have on the homeless population can be blunted by policies that support rent relief and solve pressing issues currently homeless veterans face.”

Officials added further, “We also know that while we have made broad-based progress on reducing veteran homelessness, there are still specific segments of the veteran population that experience homelessness at a higher rate and deserve additional attention.

“Black veterans comprise 33 percent of the homeless population, while they make up only 12 percent of the overall veteran population. One in five transgender veterans face housing instability, and they are three times more likely than the general veteran population to experience homelessness. Older veterans have needs that require special accommodation, and the population of women veterans continues to grow.

The organization’s guidelines concluded, “As we continue our collective efforts, we need to build a system that is inclusive of the needs of these populations.”

The National Coalition for Homeless veterans is hosting its annual conference this week, virtually. The event is a training opportunity for all who are interested in ending veteran homelessness. Join them at www.nchv2020.com to learn more about how your community can better serve housing insecure veterans.

Visit www.nchv.org to learn more about NCHV.

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