Veteran homelessness ends in Miami-Dade County
Community partnerships ensure veteran homelessness is rare, brief and non-reoccurring: 576 Veterans housed since December 2014
Today, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust announces that Miami-Dade County is the first major urban area in Florida to bring a sustainable end to veteran homelessness. The announcement comes after the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs verified and affirmed on July 18, 2018 that Miami-Dade’ has created a system and infrastructure to make veteran homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson said, “I’m thrilled that Miami-Dade County and its many partners are joining a national movement to end veteran homelessness. Those who once wore our nation’s uniform deserve more than a life on the streets and we have no greater responsibility than to make certain they have a home they can call their own.”
“This accomplishment was made possible through unprecedented collaboration between the Homeless Trust, Miami VA and a host of community partners. This is a commitment from our community leaders that no one who has served our country should be forced to sleep on the streets,” said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “This designation does not mean no veteran will ever become homeless in Miami-Dade, but that veterans who do experience homelessness will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home.”
The community effort to end veteran homelessness began in 2014 when leaders from Miami-Dade County visited our nation’s capital and later became one of several select cities to join the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs 25 Cities Initiative which was designed to intensify and integrate local efforts. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez joined the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness initiative, and was instrumental in leveraging additional permanent housing resources for homeless veterans, including a commitment of 120 Housing Choice Vouchers.
“Congratulations to the social workers, outreach workers and homeless system leaders who worked day and night to find and nurture relationships and knock down barriers that had previously kept veterans from having a permanent place to call home,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Today, we say with certainty that Miami-Dade is treating its veterans with the respect they deserve.”
In 2014, when Miami-Dade County began its collaborative effort, the annual count of sheltered and unsheltered persons uncovered 317 homeless veterans with nearly half of them unsheltered (142). By January 2018, that number had been cut in half to 120 homeless veterans, with only nine unsheltered.
By meeting strict data-driven benchmarks and criteria outlined by the federal government, Miami-Dade has demonstrated homeless veterans have quick access to shelter, the capacity to move veterans swiftly into permanent housing, and the resources, plans, and system capacity in place should any veteran become homeless or be at risk of homelessness in the future.
"I congratulate Miami-Dade County on this immense achievement,” said Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). “Our veterans sacrificed so much to defend our freedom, and we owe it to these brave men and women to help them in their times of need. As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, I am grateful to be in a position to contribute towards this goal, and will continue to do my part to ensure we put an end to veteran homelessness across the country.”
“In Miami-Dade County, the urgent focus on building and deepening collaboration was the key to success,” said Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The County’s achievement is a powerful example to other communities that ending homelessness is possible—with creativity, grit, and a lot of perseverance.”
Keys to success include:
- Strong coordination between all partners and stakeholders
- Strengthened efforts to identify, prioritize and match housing and services for veterans
- Improved data collection
- Using a Housing First orientation system-wide with the goal of providing quick access to permanent affordable or supportive housing without prerequisites
- Scaling up permanent housing resources to create a sustainable system of care for at-risk and homeless veterans
As a result, the number of homeless veterans connected with permanent housing in Miami-Dade each month is more than the number of newly entering homeless veterans.
“We have reached and maintained a steady state,” said Paul M. Russo, Director of the Miami VA Healthcare System. “Our coalition of federal, county, municipal and non-profit organizations have the resources, infrastructure and collaborations in place to quickly address homeless veterans’ immediate and future needs with housing, medical and social service programs.”
Today, unsheltered veterans represent less than 1% of the total homeless population.
This announcement comes after four years of unprecedented collaboration with support from Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Homeless Trust, together with the Homeless Trust Board, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and the entire Miami-Dade Congressional Delegation; Governor Rick Scott and the Miami-Dade State Legislative Delegation, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Housing and Social Services Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson, and the Board of County Commissioners, Miami-Dade County’s Military Affairs Board and its Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and City of Miami Commissioners, and U.S. HUD’s Miami Field Office.
Among the key partners: the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust under the leadership of Victoria L. Mallette; the Miami VA Healthcare System under the leadership of Director Paul M. Russo and Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program Manager Beth Wolfsohn; Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development under the leadership of Director Michael Liu; the Housing Authority of the City of Miami Beach, Support Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) providers’ The Advocate Program and Purpose Built Family Foundation’s Operation Sacred Trust; Grant Per Diem and supportive housing providers’ Carrfour Supportive Housing, Camillus House and Volunteers of America; The Salvation Army; City of Miami Department of Veterans Affairs and Homeless Services; City of Miami Beach Homeless Outreach and Miami Beach Police’s Homeless Task Force officers and the United Way of Miami-Dade’s Mission United. The Homeless Trust’s private-sector partner, Chapman Partnership, and its Board of Directors, and a network of Continuum of Care providers, including Lotus Village; Miami Rescue Mission, Catholic Charities, Citrus Health Network, Better Way of Miami, CHI, Douglas Gardens, Fellowship House, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Miami-Dade Community Action and Human Services, New Hope CORPS, New Horizons, and Redland Ahead.
About The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust: Founded in 1993, The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is a county agency headed by a board of 27 volunteers which serves in an advisory capacity to the Miami-Dade County Commission charged with the responsibility of implementing the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan. These volunteers represent the business, religious, educational, provider and political communities, along with formerly homeless individuals. For more information regarding The Homeless Trust visit www.homelesstrust.org.