NEW: Veteran Homelessness Down 26 Percent in MA
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Veteran homelessness dropped 26% in Massachusetts between January 2010 and January 2012, exceeding a 17% national rate of decline over the same two-year period. Murray highlighted the significant decrease in his remarks at the Annual Veterans’ Service Officers Luncheon today at the State House.
The Lieutenant Governor attributed the downward trend to the Patrick Administration’s many efforts to end homelessness among veterans in the Commonwealth since the beginning of its tenure on Beacon Hil.
“This decline is welcoming news as we stay focused on ending homelessness among veterans in Massachusetts,” said Murray. “Our veterans have bravely served our country, and they deserve to have a safe place to call home. By collaborating across state agencies and with partners across the state, we look forward to implementing more strategies to continue this positive trend in re-housing more Massachusetts veterans.”
The announcement comes after the release of the 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, prepared by the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The latest report estimates there were 62,619 homeless veterans on a single night in January 2012 in the United States, a 7.2 % decline since 2011 and a 17.2 % decline since 2009. The PIT count in Massachusetts was 1,181 representing a 7% decline from data reported in 2011 and a 26 % decline from data reported in 2010.
Lieutenant Governor Murray intends to release a statewide plan soon to further address homelessness among veterans. Since December 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and ICHH have been convening a steering committee of veteran service providers and housing stakeholders with the goal of bringing an end to veteran homelessness in the State.
"No one who has worn the uniform of this great nation should ever struggle to find basic shelter and health-care. That is why ending homelessness among veterans remains a top priority of this Department. Massachusetts is the national leader in veterans' services for many reasons, but none more so than the strong collaborations we have made to maximize our resources and provide world-class, comprehensive benefits to our service members and their families," said Secretary of Veterans' Services Coleman Nee.
"Our partnership with the VA, ICHH and veteran service providers is a great example of how the public and private sector can come together to ensure we are creating innovative and meaningful programs to successfully end veterans homelessness in Massachusetts."
In addition, last January the DVS launched a pilot program in collaboration with VA known as the Statewide Housing Advocacy for Reintegration and Prevention (SHARP) program. SHARP represents a first-in-the-nation model that accelerates the housing process and offers other countless services for chronically homeless veterans. Since January 2011, the SHARP Team has housed 48 chronically homeless veterans out of the initial 50 pilot vouchers awarded to the program and has maintained a higher than national average success rate in keeping these veterans housed and case-managed for issues related to their well-being.
Massachusetts has also recently received further federal funding to expand peer-supported “housing first” opportunities throughout the State.
"What makes Massachusetts the best state in the country for veterans benefits and services is not solely the monetary resources," said Steve Connor, President of the Massachusetts Veterans Service Officers Association. "Massachusetts has a unique partnership with the municipalities and the role of the veterans service officer. We are proud to work with the Patrick-Murray Administration in providing comprehensive services to veterans and their families and look forward to continued collaboration as we tackle the immense challenge of ending veterans homelessness in Massachusetts."
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