On Veterans Day 2014, the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center accepted First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness with a goal of housing 204 veterans by the end of 2015. To date, through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing our Heroes (HoH) initiative, 342 veterans have been housed.
Nationally as a whole, communities have been learning best practices to create a well-coordinated and efficient system that assures homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring for all homeless veterans.
Best practices adopted in Charlotte-Mecklenburg include:
• Creating by-name registry of homeless veterans in our community
• Accelerating and streamlining existing operational processes
• Agency coordination and outreach
• Active engagement of landlords
• Expediting determination of veteran status
“Our homeless veterans and their families deserve our community’s commitment to provide them access to safe, decent, and affordable housing,” said Trevor M. Fuller, chairman of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. “The success of this effort is further evidence of what we can achieve when we work together.”
Significant milestones for the initiative include:
• A $5,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank to provide funding for rental application fees.
• A donation of home essentials for veterans being moved into housing from B.J. Wholesale.
• The opening of Tyvola Crossing Phase Two, where 17 veterans were moved into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership’s supportive housing development specifically targeted to low-income military veterans and their families.
“It takes all community partners working together to identify the unique challenges locally and to come up with creative solutions,” said Jeffrey Doyle, Network Homeless Coordinator for the VA Mid-Atlantic Care Network. “I think Charlotte has all the right people at the table and are working together to find these solutions.”
The HoH implementation team has submitted a confirmation report and is working closely with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. They remain actively on target to reach the goal of ending veteran homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
“I am proud of the progress the City and County have accomplished with our community partners to provide housing for veterans,” said Mayor Jennifer Roberts. “One homeless veteran is too many and I am confident the Housing Our Heroes team is on target to reach our goal to end veteran homelessness in Charlotte.”