For 12 consecutive months, the number of new veterans housed has exceeded the number of new homeless veterans seeking assistance for the first time
Thanks to the collaboration of the public, private and non-profit sectors, 1,602 homeless veterans have been housed in the past 4 years in Santa Clara County. And just as importantly, this coordinated effort is now consistently housing homeless veterans faster than new veterans are becoming homeless.
The All the Way Home campaign was launched in 2015 by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese with a goal of ending veteran homelessness in our community. While the campaign enjoyed immediate success placing homeless veterans into housing, progress was stymied by a growing “inflow” of new homeless veterans seeking assistance for the first time. This same inflow trend has fueled the overall growth in homelessness reported earlier this year.
However, thanks to the efforts of the All the Way Home partners, we have been able to reverse this trend for veteran homelessness. For 12 consecutive months, housing placements have exceeded inflow. While we see 22 new homeless veterans seeking assistance every month, we are now housing 31 veterans per month.
“Not only have we changed the lives of 1,602 individuals who have served their country through military duty, we have created a model that we hope will work well in other segments of our homeless population,” said Supervisor Cortese. “A special thank you goes to the landlords who stepped up to rent rooms and apartments to veterans who desperately needed housing to stabilize their lives.”
“By collaborating with partners in the public, private and non-profit sectors, we’ve made important gains in the fight against veteran homelessness – yet much work remains,” said Mayor Liccardo. “We must fulfill our moral obligation to ensure that every veteran has a roof over their head.”
A Community-Wide Collaboration
The All the Way Home campaign has been led by the City of San Jose, County of Santa Clara, Santa Clara County Housing Authority and Destination: Home, in partnership with a wide array of private and nonprofit partners.
A key tool behind the campaign’s success has been the federal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which provides housing vouchers and case managers to help local veterans find housing. Due in part to the success of the campaign, HUD has allocated close to 400 additional HUD-VASH vouchers for homeless veterans in Santa Clara County since 2015 – with the most recent allocation totaling 175 additional vouchers. The Santa Clara County Housing Authority now has an allocation of 1222 VASH vouchers.
“The property owner response to our campaign has been tremendous,” said Katherine Harasz, Executive Director, Santa Clara County Housing Authority. “Santa Clara County is ground zero for the nation’s housing crisis, and the success we have seen with this program is an example for the entire nation. Moreover, in this case, success results in more resources: when we demonstrate we can fully use these federal resources, we make the case that more resources should be allocated to us when additional federal resources are made available.”
In addition to leveraging VASH vouchers, the All the Way Home campaign has benefited from additional funding from the County of Santa Clara and the City of San Jose for supportive housing programs for homeless veterans. Veterans have also been housed through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), a VA-funded program administered in partnership with local nonprofit veteran programs at Goodwill Silicon Valley, HomeFirst, and Veterans Resource Center. In addition, the Veteran’s Rapid Re-Housing Program administered by HomeFirst provides rapid re-housing to homeless Veterans who do not meet the eligibility criteria for SSVF.
“The SSVF program outreached to me and got me connected to services,” said Michael Bandanza, a formerly homeless veteran who is now stably housed, thanks to the help of HomeFirst. “The results with housing and V.A. benefits were quick and everybody was very thorough. I was even able to get a new electric wheelchair.”
The All the Way Home campaign has also received generous donations from Lockheed Martin Space and Opera San Jose.
Engaging Landlords to House Veterans
The All the Way Home campaign has also focused on recruiting additional landlords willing to rent to a homeless veteran. Since the launch of the campaign, 826 landlords have agreed to rent to a homeless veteran.
These landlords can qualify for a variety of financial incentives, including: a County-funded landlord incentive program that covers security deposits and gratitude payments administered by The Health Trust, and the City of San Jose’s “Rebuilding for Heroes” program which provide grants and/or forgivable loans to help landlords repair or renovate their properties.
“We’re extremely thankful to all of our public, private and nonprofit partners, whose collective efforts have helped more than 1,600 veterans find a home,” said Jennifer Loving, CEO of Destination: Home. “While we still have much work to do, the progress of our All the Way Home campaign has demonstrated what is possible when we pull together the resources and collective will behind a common goal. We can do more when we work together.”