The United States has set a lofty goal—to end veteran homelessness. Across New Hampshire, the Governor’s office, local and state officials, homeless service providers, public housing authorities, veteran service organizations, nonprofits, and state and federal agencies are working together to reach what’s called “functional zero.” Functional zero means a community has met criteria that ensure once a homeless veteran is identified, he or she is quickly placed in housing with a timeline and a plan for access to permanent housing and supportive services.
However, even with a comprehensive campaign, these agencies and service providers need the public’s help in identifying and reaching unsheltered veterans. If you live in New Hampshire, here are several ways that you can connect veterans to housing and services.
- Reach out to local organizations or 2-1-1 NH. There are a variety of programs and organizations across the state that are designed specifically for veterans experiencing homelessness. Harbor Homes, Liberty House, and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Program are just a sampling. If you are a homeless veteran or know a veteran who is homeless, please reach out to one of these programs, or dial 2-1-1 to find out what resources are available in your area.
- If you are a property owner or landlord, consider making apartments available to VASH voucher holders. In today’s tight rental market, it is often difficult for veterans who are homeless to find stable housing that is safe, clean and affordable. The VASH Program, which offers Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) rental assistance along with case management through the Department of Veterans Affairs, is one way that veterans can find their way home again. Through these vouchers, veterans pay an affordable percentage of their income toward rent, and the landlord receives a check for the remainder of the rent in the form of a Housing Assistance Payment. If you have a rental property, consider accepting VASH vouchers. First Lady Michelle Obama has released video encouraging property owners to help in this effort: watch it here.
- If you are a service provider, participate in Ask the Question. Ask the Question, an effort through the Department of Health and Human Services, is a statewide initiative to encourage service providers from a variety of sectors to ask clients if they or a family member has ever served in the military. The initiative also helps assist providers with what to do next if the answer is yes. Learn more on their website.
- Get informed. Want to learn more about the overall effort to end veteran homelessness, homelessness in general, and what other communities are doing to reach functional zero? Check out these resources made available through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. For more local information, email SSVF@nhpartnership.com or dial 1-800-273-8255. You can also visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.