RD533 - Virginia’s Homeless Programs 2018-19 Program Year

Executive Summary:

Virginia is a recognized national leader in ending homelessness. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) plays an integral role in Virginia’s response to homelessness by focusing resources to ensure every community in Virginia has the capacity to:

1. Quickly identify and engage people at risk of and experiencing homelessness.

2. Intervene to prevent people from losing their housing and divert people from entering the homeless services system.

3. Provide people with immediate access to shelter and crisis services without barriers to entry if homelessness does occur.

4. Quickly connect people experiencing homelessness to housing assistance and services tailored to their unique needs and strengths to help them achieve and maintain stable housing.

5. Use data to make program and system decisions to increase positive permanent housing outcomes.

DHCD administers the Commonwealth of Virginia’s homeless assistance resources (state and federal). These resources include approximately $16 million annually in state and federal funding. In the spring of 2018, DHCD released a competitive grant application that combined state and federal funding sources (HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS/HIV along with State General Funds for homeless assistance and homeless prevention). In order to apply and receive these funds, communities were required to submit community-based applications that demonstrate an effective crisis response system designed to make homelessness, rare, brief, and non-recurring.

DHCD’s strategies continue to show measured success. Currently, the rate of homelessness per 100,000 on average in Virginia is 70, the fourth lowest in the nation. This is compared with a national average of 156.

Each year during the last ten days in January, Virginia participates in a national point-in-time (PIT) count to identify the number of homeless persons who are sheltered and unsheltered. This count provides a 24-hour snapshot of those who are experiencing homelessness in Virginia. DHCD collects, aggregates, and analyzes state level PIT data to inform grant making decisions, best practices, and trends across the commonwealth. The 2018 numbers reported here are preliminary, as HUD has not released the official PIT report upon the writing of this report.

Since 2010, there has been a 36.3 percent decrease in the number of homeless persons, a 45 percent decrease in households with children, and a 46 percent decrease in chronic homeless identified during the point-in-time count. In addition, since 2011, there has been a 52 percent decrease in veteran homelessness with a 48 percent decrease in unsheltered veterans.

In addition to the reduction in the point-in-time count, the number of persons in Virginia who became homelessness for the first time decreased by 412 since 2017.

Data is important and required for making decisions, but peoples’ lives are what those decisions are about.

A DHCD funded agency, recently published a Blog post titled “Housing changes everything…" At 67-year-old and living under bridges, behind buildings and on concrete floors, “he" was at the point of giving up. He was disconnected from his family, battling sickness, and ashamed. With the support of a rapid re-housing provider, he was able to obtain a comfortable home, a job he loves in jail and prison ministry, and hope for his future. He stated, “I have so much joy. I know love now, after reconnecting with my family, and I’m going to share it."