Thursday, May 21, 2009

Secretary Shinseki Addresses the National Coalition for Homeless

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 21, 2009) - Yesterday, the Secretary of the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric K. Shinseki addressed the
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans National Conference (NCHV) at
the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

"President Obama has made it clear that homelessness among Veterans is
unacceptable," Secretary Shinseki said. "We have a moral duty to prevent
and eliminate homelessness among Veterans."

The NCHV is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Veteran-specific service organization
whose 250-plus member organizations represent a variety of homeless
providers in 45 states and the District of Columbia. It was organized
in 1990 by a small group of community-based service providers who were
troubled by the disproportionately large percentage of homeless people
who are Veterans. It serves as the primary liaison between the nation's
care providers, Congress and the executive branch agencies charged with
helping them succeed in their work.

This year, President Barack Obama is being awarded NCHV's highest award,
the Jerald Washington Memorial Founders' Award. Shinseki said the
president's "early work as a community organizer provided him first hand
experience about the devastation that is homelessness-for individuals,
for families and for communities. Now, as our president and as our
commander-in-chief, he is committed to combating this stain on the
American conscience."

Speaking to the NCHV attendees, Shinseki said, "We look forward to
working with this coalition. Your community-level experience has helped
tens of thousands of Veterans with a variety of problems. Your
expertise is respected, and I look forward to being your partner as we
eliminate homelessness among Veterans. "

During the conference Secretary Shinseki announced that VA is creating a
national center on homelessness among Veterans. The center is VA's
first opportunity to develop, promote and enhance policy, clinical care,
research and education to improve homeless services, so that Veterans
may live as independently as possible in a community of their choosing.
The center will be co-located with the Philadelphia VA Medical Center
and the Tampa VAMC with the support of host-site academic affiliates,
the University of Pennsylvania and the University of South Florida.

Secretary Shinseki applauded NCHV for the work they are doing and
highlighted some of the programs VA has to assist homeless Veterans:

* Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program -- Established
since 1987, the program now has 132 sites with extensive outreach,
physical and psychiatric examinations, treatment, referrals and on-going
case management services.

* Domiciliary Care for the Homeless (DCHV) Program -- Started
with 13 medical centers, and has grown to 2,000 operation beds at 40
sites today. Rehabilitative residential services are offered on VA
medical center grounds or in the community to eligible Veterans.

* Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program --
Authorized in 1992, it provides grants and per diem payments to help
public and nonprofit organizations establish and operate supportive
transitional housing and service centers. Today, VA partners with more
than 500 community organizations and has authorized 15,000 beds through
the GPD program.

* Stand Downs for homeless Veterans are one- to three-day events
designed to provide homeless Veterans and their families a variety of
services. In 2008, more than 30,000 Veterans and 4,500 family members
received outreach services from Stand Downs aided by 24,500 volunteers.

* Project CHALENG (Community Homelessness Assessment, Local
Education and Networking Groups) for Veterans -- Started in 1993, a
nationwide initiative in which VA works with other federal, state, local
agencies and nonprofit organizations to assess the needs of homeless
Veterans. The last estimate of the number of homeless Veterans on any
given night was 131,000, a reduction of over 47 percent from previous
estimates of 250,000 used six years ago.

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