How Is Abt Helping to Reduce Homelessness among America’s Veterans?
With conflicts ranging from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan, there are nearly 22 million veterans in America today. These veterans generally return home with higher rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, mental illness, and substance abuse issues than non-veterans. All of these factors put veterans at greater risk for homelessness.
"This year is a proof of concept moment in the fight to prevent and end homelessness. Our progress with veterans will lead the way as we turn to ending homelessness for others."
— Tom Albanese, Senior Associate and project director for Abt’s SSVF technical assistance and program monitoring work
The Obama administration made eradicating homelessness a national priority, and, in 2010, developed and launched the first national comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness among veterans and beyond. The plan, called Opening Doors, aims to achieve a “functional end” to homelessness among veterans in the United States by the end of 2015, chronic homelessness by the end of 2016, and homelessness among families and youth by 2020.
Abt Associates is working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to help get veterans who are experiencing homelessness and their families into permanent housing as quickly as possible.
“Through the SSVF program, the VA provides millions of dollars in grants to hundreds of non-profits who provide supportive services to low-income and homeless veterans and their families,” said Tom Albanese, Senior Associate and project director for Abt’s SSVF technical assistance and program monitoring work.
Abt’s Role in the Fight to End Veteran Homelessness
Abt, working in partnership with the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC), is providing technical assistance to increase SSVF grantees’ ability to establish and operate successful supportive service programs for veteran families who are either homeless or about to lose their housing. The two have developed a high quality, comprehensive core curriculum that serves as a strong foundation for program development, operations and program improvement.
America’s 22 million veterans are at higher risk of homelessness than other Americans. Recently, the U.S. Veteran’s Administration announced nearly $300 million in grants to help approximately 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.
Abt also works with Atlas Research LLC to help monitor the performance of SSVF grantees, leading the annual SSVF program evaluation that documents grantee performance and nationwide progress. This report is shared with Congress and is used to guide program quality and performance improvements.
The State of Homelessness Among America’s Veterans
In addition to the work with the VA, Abt works closely with government clients around the issue of homelessness and produces a two-part Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The most recent AHAR report details the results of a point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January of 2014, and includes veterans and their families.
Abt’s report found that veteran homelessness dropped by 10 percent between 2013 and 2014, the steepest decline since 2010 to 2011, which saw a drop of 12 percent. Since the release of Opening Doors, the number of homeless veterans has declined by 33 percent.
The Obama administration made eradicating homelessness a national priority and, in 2010, developed and launched the first national comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness among veterans and beyond.
As part of this effort, Abt Associates is working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program to help get veterans who are experiencing homelessness and their families into permanent housing as quickly as possible.
“Our AHAR report is welcome news in the battle to fight veteran homelessness,” said Abt Principal Associate Dr. Alvaro Cortes, who led the study on behalf of Abt Associates. “It shows significant progress toward the goal of ending homelessness, especially among veterans and those experiencing chronic homelessness.”
The Outlook for Tomorrow
In September of 2014 and then in March of 2015, the VA announced two rounds of awards of nearly $300 million in SSVF three-year “surge” grants that will help approximately 115,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. The grants have been distributed to grantees in 71 non-profit agencies in 71 high priority communities with the largest number of homeless veterans. Surge funding was awarded on top of the $300 million in renewal funding for grantees this year, serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and most U.S. Territories. As part of the surge funding, an additional $30 million in awards have been distributed to grantees in the Los Angeles area.
“Los Angeles might be considered ‘Ground Zero’ in our work to end homelessness among veterans. The 2015 point-in-time count found that it had the largest number of homeless veterans in the nation,” Albanese said. “The specific focus on Los Angeles, as well as other high priority communities, will help grantees as they fight to ensure that no veteran is left behind.”
Through the remainder of 2015, Abt and its partners at the VA and TAC are stepping up efforts to assist all communities in their effort to end homelessness among veterans. Planning tools, guidance, training and direct technical assistance are being offered to help grantees and their local partners.
“This year is a proof of concept moment in the fight to prevent and end homelessness,” Albanese said. “Our progress with veterans will lead the way as we turn to ending homelessness for others.”
Read more about the SSVF program.