RD642 - Virginia’s Homeless Programs – 2020-2021 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. DHCD continues to be a crucial resource to communities across the commonwealth allowing persons who are homeless to access non congregate shelter, quarantine when necessary, obtain personal protective equipment, gain information on COVID vaccines, and obtain and maintain permanent housing during the COVID pandemic. This past year has been unprecedented in the resources, challenges, growth, and changes DHCD and homeless service providers have faced to meet the needs of the most vulnerable residents in Virginia. It has been established without doubt – Housing is Healthcare, and to that end, DHCD is a leader among state agencies to ensure our system is aligned and coordinated to make the solution fit the crisis.

The Homeless and Special Needs Housing Unit (HSNH) established an internal plan for supporting its community partners with the overarching goal of “Functionally Ending Homelessness in Virginia." Functionally ending homelessness means that every community will have a comprehensive response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible, or if it cannot be prevented, it is a rare, brief, and one-time experience (United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2018).

The intent of the internal document is to outline support and technical assistance HSNH will deliver to its community partners and the short, medium, and long-term activities necessary to achieve these outcomes in Virginia’s effort of functionally ending homelessness.

- Goal 1: Improve HSNH program administration activities to include increasedoversight of grantees, build better relationship with grantees and communities,and meet the technical assistance needs of grantees and communities to providea greater service to our providers.

- Goal 2: Help communities and providers access new funding sources and engagenew partners to assist in their efforts to functionally end homelessness.

- Goal 3: Address the affordable housing gap especially for residents who arehomeless by informing, partnering, and engaging with the Affordable and SpecialNeeds Housing (ASNH) unit and Community Development colleagues.

DHCD administers the Commonwealth of Virginia’s homeless assistance resources. These resources include approximately $17 million annually in state and federal funding. Additionally during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, DHCD managed unprecedented state Housing Trust Fund resources and federal COVID-related funding totaling over $60 million.

In the spring of 2020, DHCD released the bi-annual competitive Virginia Homeless Solutions Program (VHSP) 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. These funds were renewed in the spring of 2021.