Celebrating Success: How Houston Housed Its Veterans

It was a goal set more than two years ago; house 100 homeless citizens. But that wasn’t enough for Houston Mayor Annise Parker. She knew the city could do more and a new mission was born: move thousands of veterans into permanent housing.

This past summer, Parker declared a much larger accomplishment. On June 1, 2015 she declared that the City of Houston had effectively ended veteran homelessness.

Houston, the fourth most populous city in the nation, has the second largest veteran population in the United States. It is just one of many communities across the nation working toward the federal initiative known as the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

According to Parker, Houston has housed 3,650 homeless veterans over the past three years and has created a nationally-recognized response system that allows them to quickly house any veterans who experience homelessness in the future. These are achievements that would not have been possible without collaboration.

"From regular provider coordination meetings and aligning local and federal resources, to dedicated street outreach teams and a coordinated assessment system that identifies, assesses, refers and navigates homeless veterans to housing, the Houston region has come together as a team to transform our homeless response system to effectively end veteran homelessness,"Parker said in a release.

The city's efforts were part of a regional campaign led by The Way Home, which brought together more than 35 local agencies to establish an effective response system. This included aligning local and federal resources, improving and increasing street outreach teams, and developing solutions for each individual in need.

United States Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert F. McDonald, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Matthew Doherty joined Parker this past June at a ceremony celebrating this massive achievement.

"Our courageous veterans deserve the opportunity to experience the American Dream they've risked so much to defend," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. "Thanks to our coalition of federal and local leadership, Houston has developed the tools to identify and support every veteran in the city experiencing homelessness. We look forward to sharing its innovative strategy with folks all across the nation. Together, we can ensure that every veteran, in every community, enjoys the chance to build a brighter tomorrow."