Houston Becomes Largest U.S. City to Effectively End Veteran Homelessness
WASHINGTON-Houston Mayor Annise Parker today announced that Houston has become the largest city in the nation to create a system to house any homeless veteran, effectively ending veteran homelessness in the city. Today's historic announcement comes one year after Mayor Parker accepted First Lady Michelle Obama's Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Houston's achievement builds on similar efforts by Phoenix and Salt Lake City, who have successfully ended chronic veteran homelessness, and New Orleans, which ended all forms of veteran homelessness earlier this year. The National League of Cities (NLC) is the leading national organization supporting the first lady's challenge, and works with federal partners to prove that veteran homelessness is not an intractable issue.
"I am thrilled that Houston has become the next major city to effectively end veteran homelessness in their community. From Salt Lake City to New Orleans, cities across the nation are leading the call to ensure that all veterans have a safe place to call home," said National League of Cities President Ralph Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah. "As we move closer to the goal of ending veteran homelessness across the country, I urge city leaders to engage with community partners to provide all veterans with the dignity of a place to call home."
"Last year, First Lady Michelle Obama announced a bold new initiative to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "In New Orleans, we committed ourselves to this cause and through hard work and determination, we celebrated reaching this goal earlier this year and became the first major city in the nation to reach functional zero. Ending Veteran homelessness is important for one simple reason: Veterans fought for our freedom and our way of life, and it is now our turn to fight for them. I commend the City of Houston on its announcement and look forward to more cities and communities not only accepting the Mayors Challenge but achieving life-changing results for our most vulnerable heroes."
Veteran homelessness remains a serious problem across the U.S. While the federal government has set the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, nearly 50,000 veterans still lack safe and stable housing. In December 2013, Phoenix, Ariz. became the first city in American history to end chronic homelessness for veterans. Soon after, Salt Lake City announced that it had joined Phoenix in ending chronic veteran homelessness.
"More than a year ago, Phoenix celebrated the end of chronic veteran homelessness. Along with Mayor Parker, I am proud to be a part of the First Lady's Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. The progress seen in Phoenix and Houston is proof that cities can end the shame of our nation's veterans living on the streets," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. "While we know the work to ensure all veterans have a place to call home will never completely end, the best practices developed in our cities are models for how communities can build the collaborative systems necessary to make veteran homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring."
"Too often those that answered the call of service still find themselves struggling long after leaving the military," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "From regular provider coordination meetings and aligning local and federal resources, to dedicated street outreach teams and a coordinated assessment system that identifies, assesses, refers and navigates homeless veterans to housing, the Houston region has come together as a team to transform our homeless response system to effectively end veteran homelessness."
NLC has been the leading organization supporting the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Last year, NLC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to hold regional forums in support of the Obama administration's goal to end veteran homelessness in 2015. To date, more than 600 elected officials - including 460 mayors, seven governors and 137 other county and city officials - are pledging to end veteran homelessness in their communities by 2015 using the power of federal, state, local and non-profit resources.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.