Public Comment Period Opens for VHHP Draft Guidelines

glassesThe public is invited to comment on the newly released draft guidelines for the initial funding round of the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention (VHHP) Program.

Written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Dec. 10 and should be submitted using the online public comment form located on the VHHP Program website.

Originally approved by voters as Proposition 41 last June, VHHP provides $600 million in general obligation bond funding to help build, rehabilitate and acquire multifamily housing developments for low-income veterans. The money comes from the $1 billion underutilized California Veterans Farm and Home Loan program (CalVet).

Proposition 41 also permits the funds to be used for the provision of wraparound services for veterans once they are placed in affordable housing units.

Public hearings on the guidelines are scheduled for Dec. 8 in Los Angeles and Dec. 10 in Oakland. For the Los Angeles hearing, participants are being asked to RSVP to To register for the Oakland hearing, click here.

The VHHP NOFA release date has been pushed back approximately one month to December 2014, although no precise date has been given yet. Accordingly, the NOFA workshop dates have also been pushed back one month to December 2014/January 2015. The anticipated application date (initial NOFA) is still expected to be March 2015, with the anticipated award date in June 2015.

For more information on VHHP, click here.

Keeping Families Together

CSHThis month, the Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center sponsored peer-to-peer activities in New York City to highlight and enhance the national demonstration project showcasing the Keeping Families Together supportive housing model.

The idea behind the Keeping Families Together model is simple; keeping families together by providing stable supportive housing improves lives. Launched in 2010, the Keeping Families Together New York City pilot program has helped provide supportive housing to vulnerable families, which in turn has created a safe and healthy environment for children.  Data from the program revealed no new abuse or neglect cases after placement in housing along with improved average school attendance for children.

The peer-to peer activities involved representatives from five programs located in– Broward County, Florida; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; State of Connecticut; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California meeting with the three supportive housing providers from the Keeping Families Together pilot- Diversity Works and Fox Point Family Supportive Housing in the Bronx, and Housing+Solutions.

These peer-to-peer activities encouraged and facilitated local implementation of supportive housing with customized care and critical services for this vulnerable population. Learn more at CSH.

San Diego Selected to Participate in Zero: 2016

25 Cities San Diego to Work in Tandem with New Campaign

San Diego has been selected, along with 68 other U.S. communities, to participate in Zero: 2016, a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness. 25 Cities San Diego, the local arm of a national initiative with the same aim, will work in tandem with Zero: 2016 by providing the necessary tools to ultimately end veteran and chronic homelessness in the region. To reflect this partnership, the initiative has been renamed 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero.

The Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement System (CAHP) designed and implemented by 25 Cities San Diego earlier in 2014 will play a key role in laying the groundwork to meet the national campaign goals. The CAHP system creates coordinated entry points for homeless individuals to be assessed and access services and housing – while prioritizing resources on an individual basis. It focuses on a person’s specific needs versus fitting a client into a one-size-fits-all program, and replaces previously used methods that were disconnected, confusing and inefficient.

“25 Cities San Diego is building the system that will bring our community much closer to eradicating chronic homelessness,” said 25 Cities San Diego Team Leader Michael McConnell. “The multiple private and public organizations that are leading this systems design work locally will continue to work together in alignment with the new campaign to accelerate and eventually meet the goal of eliminating homelessness. The additional resources provided through Zero: 2016 will serve to further the work we’ve started.”

Zero: 2016 was established and is funded by Community Solutions, a national nonprofit based in New York City. The initiative is a rigorous follow-on to the group’s successful 100,000 Homes Campaign, which announced in June that it had helped communities house 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in under four years.

San Diego was selected for Zero: 2016 because of its participation and progress with 25 Cities. The initiative will formally launch in January 2015 during the national 2015 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, during which local volunteers will hit area streets and shelters to enumerate the local homeless population.

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development released the results of the 2014 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, which shows that homelessness continues to decline across virtually all major categories, including chronic homelessness. Veteran homelessness was singled out by the report for its particularly steep decline – more than 30 percent in the last four years.

The report also showed that communities selected to join Zero: 2016 account for a combined 31,669 chronically homeless Americans and 16,218 homeless veterans. Community Solutions said it estimates an overlap of 10,000-12,000 between these two populations.

Zero: 2016 Director Beth Sandor said Community Solutions will work with communities to accelerate their housing efforts by providing hands-on coaching and data tools, and by curating a national peer-to-peer learning network to accelerate innovation across communities.

Zero: 2016 will align with other large-scale initiatives working to help communities end homelessness, including the 25 Cities initiative, as led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Community Solutions has coordinated extensively with VA and other federal agencies to ensure that all initiatives complement each other.

For more information about 25 Cities, visit, and for more information on Zero: 2016, visit

About 25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero
25 Cities San Diego, Setting a Path to Zero is the local arm of a federal initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness initiated and funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The initiative focuses on collaboration between multiple private and public organizations, which include the Regional Continuum of Care Council, the entities that comprise the Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego, the San Diego VA and Community Solutions. For more information on 25 Cities San Diego, visit

Rethinking Our Approach Toward Addressing Homelessness

PITCAn article recently published by the Union Tribune draws attention San Diego’s investment of $127.5 million to address homelessness in the region.

It is estimated that there are currently 8,900 homeless individuals in the County of San Diego, which translates to the use of $14,232 on each homeless individual every year.

However, this large investment in homelessness does not produce a significant decline in the number of homeless individuals in the county.

Utah spends about $8,000 on each homeless person, has ended chronic veteran homelessness, and is expected to end homelessness in the state by 2015. It is argued that the Utah’s successful efforts to end homelessness can be traced to its shift to the ‘Housing First’ model for ending homelessness.

The ‘Housing First’ strategy follows an approach in which the most vulnerable, sickest, and chronically homeless individuals are provided permanent housing and support services as a method to end the cycle of homelessness.

Gordon Walker, director of Utah’s department of housing and community development, claims that by following the housing first approach and making homelessness a priority, San Diego also has the potential to reduce the cost of homelessness and achieve more successful outcomes in ending homelessness.

60 Minutes Segment on 100K Homes Campaign and ‘Housing First’ Homelessness Solution

60 Minutes

In case you missed it last night, 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper profiled the 100,000 Homes Campaign and their ‘Housing First’ strategy as a proven model to end homelessness!

Our Campaign to End Homelessness in Downtown San Diego is a proud member of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. As such, we too employ the ‘Housing First’ strategy whereby the most vulnerable, sickest, and chronically homeless individuals are provided permanent housing and support services as a method to end the cycle of homelessness.

We believe in the Housing First manifesto of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. “The bottom line is that it is just too difficult to battle addiction, take care of serious physical and mental health conditions or find steady employment while simultaneously battling homelessness.”

Furthermore, the Housing First approach saves taxpayers money and has a documented track record of successfully ending homelessness.

San Diego has also seen much success with the Housing First philosophy.  Over 565 formerly homeless individuals have been taken off the streets of San Diego due to the Campaign’s efforts — nearly 100 of whom were housed over a span of just 3 days! See this video for more details:

Nationally, 235 communities are participating in the 100,000 Homes Campaign and more than 82,000 homeless Americans, including more than 23,000 veterans, have been housed. The Campaign expects to reach their goal and house 100,000 homeless persons as early as June of this year!

The 60 Minutes segment on the 100,000 Homes Campaign has prompted much discussion on whether San Diego is broadly utilizing the national best practice of Housing First. We hope you will join us in continuing to advocate that the Housing First model be broadly adopted by our communities.

Together, San Diego can make a difference and change lives!

Thank you for your support,


Jennifer LeSar signature

Jennifer LeSar

Ending Homelessness Campaign Coordinator

P.S. Be sure to watch the segment online, and check out the 60 Minutes photo gallery ‘Before and After – From Homeless to Hopeful,’ which features one of our Campaign’s success stories – Wanda at Connections Housing!

Photo Credit: Kristoffer Newsom,
Photo Credit: (c)2013 Pam Fessler/NPR

SAMHSA Health Care Toolkit Available in October

On October 1, a new healthcare marketplace will be available to all, and people that are homeless will have the opportunity to receive new benefits. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), along with The National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) and other national partners, have created a new toolkit to help advocates enroll people, called “Getting Ready for the Health Care Insurance Marketplace.” The toolkit provides communications and resources, educates about how the healthcare law relates to people with mental and substance abuse disorders, and will explain how to maximize use of the Marketplace professionally and in your community.

Along this vein, the Obama Administration has just announced $67 million in grants to Navigators that will provide education and enrollment assistance on health insurance. This is one of multiple recent grant opportunities regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will improve community health. Visit to connect with local grant awardees.

NAEH Conference – A First Hand Perspective

In late July, members of our Campaign’s Leadership Team joined federal, state and local policy makers, advocates, and providers at the annual conference of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

This year’s conference, titled “Reframing the Future,” prominently featured the national 100,000 Homes Campaign and the Housing First model.  The 100,000 Homes Campaign provided tools for every community to accelerate housing placements in the face of economic uncertainty and budget cuts due to sequestration.  They also linked high performing communities with one another to share “the best, most transferable strategies that have propelled them to success.”

At the conference, the national 100,000 Homes Campaign also called 2.5% Club members to the stage during the keynote to celebrate their success and to inspire and invite others to reach their goals.

Conference attendees were encouraged to share thoughts and takeaways via social media.  See the #naeh13 conversation through Twitter here.

YouthCount! 2012 Study Results Released

Watch the YouthCount! Video from Urban Institute

The Urban Institute released the results of their process study of the 2012 YouthCount!  As we reported in January, this initiative, launched by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), sought new methods to collect data on homeless youth. According to USICH, this key group is likely underestimated in the Continuum of Care (CoC) Point-in-Time Counts, due to their differing behavior from other chronically homeless persons that makes them less visible to surveyors, such as an increased fear of authority and tendency to “hide in plain sight.”  The study considers best practices and recommends areas for improvement, highlighting the importance of new partnerships and targeted interagency collaboration. To read the full report, click here.

Registry Week Boot Camp – A First Hand Perspective

100,000 Homes communities “identify their homeless neighbors by name through an event called a Registry Week, the organizing backbone of the 100,000 Homes Campaign.”  During Registry Week, communities work to identify and survey their most vulnerable or at-risk homeless residents and prioritize them for permanent housing.

Melanie Wlson, LeSar Development Consultants; Craig Jones, Interfaith Community Services; Marha Ranson, Catholic Charities; Lila Fetherolf; Interfaith Community Services; and Megan Crooks, City of Oceanside participate in one of the hands on Boot Camp activities.

Melanie Wlson, LeSar Development Consultants; Craig Jones, Interfaith Community Services; Marha Ranson, Catholic Charities; Lila Fetherolf; Interfaith Community Services; and Megan Crooks, City of Oceanside participate in one of the hands on Boot Camp activities.

Representatives from the Downtown Campaign and North San Diego County were pleased to join communities from all over the country at the 100,000 Homes Campaign’s two day Registry Week Boot Camp in Irvine, CA on June 10-11, 2013. Linda Kauffman, the 100,000 Homes Facilitator and Jennifer LeSar, the Community Facilitator and Downtown Campaign Coordinator, led the two day session.

The Boot Camp prepared communities to host their own registry week, covering everything from how to build a strong team, to budgets and supplies, to how to report to 100,000 Homes Campaign. The ‘housing first’ model was emphasized throughout each of the exercises.

The Boot Camp included slide presentations, inspirational videos, and hands on activities. The ice breaker exercise was particularly emotional and motivational. Participants wrote down the five things that are most important to our identity on Post-it notes. One by one we tossed the cards away. We “lost our identity” the same way a person loses their identity when they become homeless. During one hands on activity, Campaign representatives collaborated with representatives from North County to build the tallest marshmallow structure of any of the communities. Through these exercises, we proved we can effectively use collaboration and the resources we have available to make a powerful impact. North County continued the momentum by mapping out their key players and current housing available to move forward on their own registry week. We areexcited to see their progress!

100,000 Homes Campaign Sustainability Review

Earlier this year, representatives from the San Diego region participated in the 100,000 Homes Campaign Rapid Results Boot Camp, a three-day boot camp in Los Angeles to support communities in finding ways of accelerating chronic and vulnerable housing placements. Representatives from San Diego were joined by 8 other communities as well as representatives from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs, Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute.

San Diego 100,000 Homes Campaign 100-Day Boot Camp Team Leader Michael McConnell and representatives Vicky Joes and Ann Kerr returned to Los Angeles June 18-19, 2013 for a Rapid Results Sustainability Review.

Communities including Fresno, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Metro Atlanta, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz reported on their success, obstacles and strategies for ending chronic and veteran homelessness by 2015.  A key part of the agenda included problem solving around critical barriers that have thwarted progress over the last 100 days.  Beth Sandor, 100,000 Homes Campaign Director, will debrief the results and discuss efforts for the next 100 Days on July 16, 2013 at Liberty Station Conference Center, 2600 Laning Drive, Room 201, San Diego, CA 92106 from 1:45 to 4:45 p.m.  Space is limited, please rsvp at

Also on July 16th, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) will present three Transitional Housing (TH) assessments that were completed during the 100 Day Campaign.  The presentation provides an introduction to agencies that would like to participate in this technical assistance.   The presentation also will be held at Liberty Station Conference Center, 2600 Laning Drive, Room 201, San Diego, CA 92106 from 12:30 -1:30p.m.  Space is limited, please rsvp at

Everyone is welcome to participate in the next 100 Days!