Most Americans (big and small) are issued a challenge practically on a weekly basis. Children are issued challenges by their teachers or their peers whether in the classroom or the playground; Adults are issued challenges at work by co-workers or their boss, challenges are issued by social media, or friends and acquaintances; But one recent challenge issued by the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness was a challenge Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, could not resist.
Last week, Mayor Warren announced that Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, set a bold and audacious goal to end Veteran homelessness in the United States before the end of 2015 and this was a challenge that Mayor Warren could not resist, and a commitment that she vowed to help in the cause to end Veteran homelessness.
“My heart goes out to our Veterans who protected and defended this great nation and who are now struggling to find a permanent home,” said Mayor Warren. “I am proud to be a part of this commitment to end Veteran Homelessness. The direction from the City Council is to explore all avenues for grants and opportunities to assist with projects for homeless and low-income Veterans. This program from the Federal government will provide additional resources and opportunities to help Fontana’s Veterans and their families,” added Mayor Warren.
On June 4, 2014, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that a growing coalition of mayors, governors, and county officials are committed to ending Veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015.
The City of Fontana already actively helps homeless Veterans. Mayor Warren said, “The City Council has established a program to provide housing opportunities to Fontana Veterans and their families. Through this program, selected multi-family units and single-family homes are made available (on a first-come first-served basis) to income eligible Fontana veterans.” As units become available, staff utilizes the Veteran’s Resource Center and local VFW Post’s to assist with identifying affordable rental housing for Fontana Veterans.
To aid the mayors in pursuit of the goal of ending homelessness among Veterans, the Federal government has provided resources and enforced programs to strengthen our country’s homeless assistance programs.
These resources and reforms, when implemented in local communities, can include:
• Housing First – which removes barriers to help Veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible, without unnecessary prerequisites;
• Permanent Supportive Housing – Prioritizing the most vulnerable Veterans, especially those experiencing chronic homelessness including those created through the HUD-VASH program (The Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program is a joint effort between HUD and VA to move Veterans and their families out of homelessness and into permanent housing.)
• Coordinating outreach efforts to identify and engage every Veteran experiencing homelessness and focusing outreach efforts on achieving housing outcomes;
• Targeting rapid re-housing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, toward Veterans and their families who need shorter-term rental subsidies and services in order to be reintegrated back into our communities;
• Leveraging housing and services that can help Veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA’s programs get into stable housing;
• Increasing early detection and access to preventive services so at-risk Veterans and their families remain stably housed; and
• Closely monitoring progress toward the goal, including the success of programs in achieving permanent housing outcomes.
In addition to Fontana’s Veterans Resource Center, the Mayor said that the City also has a partnership with Veteran Partnering with Communities, Inc. (VPWC). VPWC offers a one-stop resource center for Veterans’ needs. “This center provides: referrals for counseling, job training, resume writing, job placement services, veterans benefits, housing, health and wellness information and other such resources,” Mayor Warren said.