New Orleans Ends Veteran Homelessness
What are the target goals?
In 2014, the Point-in-Time count organized under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to identify the homeless counted 193 homeless veterans in New Orleans. The city government and the community set out to house ALL these veterans, while also creating a broad-based system that can rapidly end or prevent homelessness among veterans moving forward.
The over-arching goal was to reach "functional zero" on veteran homelessness. Functional zero means that "there are no longer any veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the community... the community has the resources and a plan and timeline for providing permanent housing opportunities to all veterans who are currently sheltered but are still experiencing homelessness."
Who are the partners?
Central to the success in New Orleans was the coordinated teamwork of community partners. More than 63 partner agencies and service providers that are part of the city's Continuum of Care, including UNITY of Greater New Orleans, were critical allies.
In addition, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, Housing Authority of New Orleans, Downtown Development District, and the New Orleans Interagency Council were key partners. These stakeholders joined officials from federal partners at HUD, Veterans Affairs and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) as well as leaders from organizations such as Community Solutions, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and The Home Depot Foundation.
Other partners critical to the community's success were landlords and property management companies, particularly those that were already working with the city and local housing authorities. These private businesses helped meet the community recognized challenge of needing more housing units for homeless veterans.
The area's active duty military personnel and veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars were also important partners. The participation of veterans as part of outreach efforts to identify their homeless peers, encouraged more veterans to engage with the services available to get them off the streets.
How is the effort financed?
Many of the public resources came from federal programs such as the Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnership program, Emergency Solutions Grant, Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, Grant and Per Diem program and HUD-VASH housing vouchers. Private sector resources from philanthropies such as The Home Depot Foundation, joined with state and federal resources to create housing units necessary to end veteran homelessness.
Among the lessons applied to ending veteran homelessness that arose from the city's experiences following Hurricane Katrina is the importance of convening stakeholders to facilitate vertical and horizontal communication among local, state and federal agencies.
When was the program launched?
The initiative was launched in New Orleans in June 2014 as part of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness created by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of Joining Forces effort. The National League of Cities has been the lead organization partnering with federal agencies to support the challenge.
First Lady Honors New Orleans for Ending Veteran Homelessness, Announces New Resources
How the City of New Orleans Ended Veteran Homelessness
NLC Staff Contact
Principal Housing Associate (Veteran & Special Needs)
Other Local Contact Information
Policy Advisor, Office of the Mayor
Executive Director, UNITY of Greater New Orleans
(Last Modified: May 2015, EHB)