Politics

Denver mayor, VA leaders set goal of “functional zero” for homelessness among veterans


Denver and federal officials say their data tracking shows that after a recent push to move people indoors, just 52 homeless veterans were still sleeping on city streets as of April.

Mayor Mike Johnston and other leaders said Monday that they hoped to reduce that total to “functional zero” by the end of this year. They plan to do so by leveraging federal housing vouchers set aside specifically for veterans and by working with local housing and service providers, like the Denver Housing Authority and Volunteers of America.

Functional zero is the point at which all known episodes of homelessness are solved for a population group and resources are set up to ensure that future instances are addressed quickly and solved within 30 days, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

“That means we will be the largest American city to make sure that no veteran who has served this country sleeps outside on the streets of Denver — and that is something that we are excited about,” Johnston said during a morning news conference outside a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs resource center in east Denver.

While Monday’s event was light on specifics, it was clear the city and its partners’ approach would remain focused on a “housing first” model.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development vouchers that will power the effort will be administered through the Denver Housing Authority and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, according to the mayor’s office.

“Denver is unique in that we have all these partners ready, willing and able — and believing in that goal to end unsheltered veteran homelessness,” said Jamie Rife, director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability.

Rife previously led the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, the federal government-designated organization tasked with coordinating the metrowide homeless response. That organization’s centralized data system is the tool that gives Denver and its partners confidence there are just a few dozen veterans left sleeping on the city’s streets as of this year.

Some veterans were among more than 1,500 people from the larger homeless population moved by city workers into hotel rooms and micro-communities since last fall, as part of the new mayor’s strategy to get people living in encampments temporarily sheltered. The administration is still working out longer-term plans for those people.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Politics

      

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