Thoughts on the National Forum on Ending Veterans Homelessness
Mark J. Nolan, Chair, Danbury Housing Partnership
On December 7-8, 2010 I had the privilege of representing
Danbury in Washington, DC at the National Forum on Ending Veterans Homelessness
co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United States
Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). The event brought together more than 400 participants from
throughout the nation along with key Federal cabinet secretaries to plan collaborative
efforts to prevent and end homelessness among veterans- a group that,
shockingly, accounted for 13% of all persons experiencing homelessness in
America last year according to USICH.
The forum provided a fantastic opportunity to interact directly
with Cabinet secretaries, share Danbury’s progress in implementing its Ten-Year
Plan To End Homelessness and learn about strategies to increase the
supply of affordable housing being implemented by our colleagues in communities
around the country. Presentations
were made by the Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans
Affairs, Labor, and Health and Human Services as well as by the executive
director of the USICH, which is composed of all Federal Cabinet secretaries.
Discussions at the forum identified the following essential
elements of a successful approach to effectively prevent and end homelessness
need for an interagency approach at all levels of government, such as that
represented by the USICH on the Federal level, to include State and local
governments. This effort
must include partnerships between government agencies, locally based
non-profits and the business community such as those envisioned as part of the Ten-Year Plan approach adopted by the
Greater Danbury region.
need to employ a “housing first” strategy whereby Veterans who are homeless are
put into a stable housing environment as soon as possible and provided with
needed social and medical supportive services to break the ineffective and
costly revolving door use of emergency care. An example of such a strategy is the HUD-VASH Voucher
partnership between HUD and VA that provides resources to Veterans to gain
private rental apartments and connects them with required supportive services.
need for accurate and complete information on the extent of homelessness and
the needs of those who face homelessness through full implementation of the
Homeless Management Information System and the Annual Point in Time Count. Danbury is fortunate to have the Greater Danbury Continuum of Care at
the forefront of our local efforts to implement both of these crucial
While it was painful to learn that those who have worn our
nation’s uniform and defended our freedoms are among those most effected by the
horrors of homelessness, the lessons learned in addressing homelessness among
veterans can be readily extended to address homelessness among non-veteran
families and individuals. By
applying the lessons learned in dealing with veterans homelessness, we can
expand our collaborative efforts to prevent and address homelessness among
individuals and families- including the heart-rending predicament of homeless
children and young adults who so desperately need our help.
Since returning to Danbury I have had a chance to discuss
the information provided at the forum with local partners to see what
recommendations we could put forth to improve our efforts on the local and
State levels. I will share these
recommendations with you in another opinion piece to be released shortly.
I invite you to learn more about the Danbury Housing
Partnership and our efforts to address the issues of homelessness and
affordable housing by visiting www.danburyhousingpartnership.org. I also invite you to volunteer to join
us in this community-wide effort to strengthen the Danbury region through the
provision of affordable housing, workforce housing and senior housing for area
For more information, please contact Chairman Mark J. Nolan
at 203-797-8255 or visit www.danburyhousingpartnership.org.