community partners for serving this vulnerable population. CPHD decided to contract-out
the leasing functions of its 150 HUD-VASH vouchers from the FY 2011 allocation. After
issuing an RFP, CPHD selected for the contract HOM, Inc
, the largest provider of
permanent supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in
Maricopa County. Beginning in January 2012, HOM, Inc. began receiving referrals of
eligible homeless Veterans directly from the Phoenix VAMC and determining eligibility
for the HUD-VASH vouchers. HOM, Inc. conducts briefings, issues vouchers, assists with
the housing search process, processes RTAs, determines rent reasonableness, calculates
tenant rent and housing assistance payments, performs HQS inspections and facilitates the
execution of leases between HUD-VASH participants and community landlords. CPHD
uses money from its unrestricted net assets (UNA) account to fund the contract, paying
nearly the same amount of money it costs to pay a CPHD staff person to complete the same
ecause of HOM, Inc‟s experience and expertise in serving homeless
individuals and families, chronically homeless Veterans have been housed more quickly.
Carrying out a system redesign or process-mapping workshop
The national non-profit, Community Solutions, and staff working on their 100,000
Homes Campaign, have organized housing placement
in New York and
Los Angeles to help HUD-VASH sites streamline their leasing processes. Facilitated
through an incremental process-improvement method designed by the Institute for
, boot-camp participants are divided into community teams
and asked to map out the current housing placement process. The time to complete
each step of the process then is estimated and included on the process road map. After
reviewing the current processes, participants are then asked to create a
system that streamlines activities, combines or completes multiple tasks at once, and
helps homeless Veterans move into housing faster. Intense brainstorming sessions take
place, with participants “acce
pting responsibility for driving change within his/her
agency” in order to reduce steps and time involved in the process. Written individual
and team action plans then are established.
External facilitators are helpful for system redesign events or “boot
100,000 Homes Campaign staff from Community Solutions can be contacted about
carrying out housing placement boot camps for HUD-VASH: www.100khomes.org
System redesign efforts also can be carried out internally within a single agency in
order to accelerate the steps in the referral and leasing processes for which the agency
is responsible. For example, in August 2011, the West Palm Beach VAMC organized
internal meetings and system review workshops with HUD-
VASH staff from the VA‟s
Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) 8 to explore ways that HUD-VASH
activities can be accelerated.
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2. PHA management strategies
The following management strategies are simple steps initiated and carried out by PHAs that have
significantly influenced the overall success of HUD-VASH sites.
Identifying designated PHA staff to focus on HUD-VASH: Eight responders
emphasized the value of designating one or more staff people at PHAs to serve as HUD-
VASH experts and points of contact for VA staff. PHAs have recognized the importance
of having staff with skill sets and knowledge unique to HUD-VASH that develop strong
working relationships with VA staff.
Columbia Housing Authority has ass
igned one staff person to be the VA‟s contact for
Veteran applications, another person to be the contact on leasing, and a third person to
be the VA‟s contact on inspections.
After identifying employees to focus on HUD-VASH, the Fort Worth HA arranged for
the designated staff to be trained on effective approaches for working with homeless,
The Orange County Housing Authority designated a staff person to be a liaison with
VA case managers. The housing authority also held a training for multiple staff
members on VASH program objectives in order for staff to gain understanding and
support for processing Veteran families differently.
The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) emphasized the importance of
“putting a „face‟ behind the
VASH program” on the PHA side to offer reassurance and
a “communal element” for
Veterans applying to the program. In the words of Andrew
Ailes from MPHA, “from the shelter to program completion,
Veterans know who their
contact is at the PHA. There is a familiar and responsive person they know that sits
behind their paperwork.”
Setting aside one day of the week for HUD-VASH intake: A number of PHAs
recommend designating one day of the week for Veteran application submissions and
orientation. The regularly scheduled day for these procedures helps to establish structure
and shared expectations for the application process for the PHA, VAMC, and most
importantly, for the Veterans.
Kenner Housing Authority designates the entire day on Fridays to VASH meetings.
The agency provides refreshments for Veterans and tries to personalize the process as
much as possible to help Veterans feel comfortable.
Providing space for VA case manager(s) in PHA
office: Four PHAs that responded to
our request for best practices reported that their agency provides an office or other type of
workspace for VA case managers in their agency‟s building. Such an approach enhances
coordination, communication, and efficiency in administering the program.
The Longview HA reports that from the day the VA staff arrived and settled in, the
agencies have created and maintained a symbiotic partnership that includes face to face
conversations/interaction, prompt exchange of documents, and follow-up Veteran
engagement that has greatly lessened the Veteran
‟s stress level, their time on the street,
and enhanced their overall housing experience.
The VA partnering with the Myrtle Beach Housing Authority initially did not have a
case manager located in Myrtle Beach. The travel to Charleston made it very difficult
for the Veteran to comply with the VA program requirement in order to qualify for
housing assistance. Therefore, the housing authority decided to provide space for the
case manager in their office.
When the housing agency‟s waiting l
ist was opened up
for two days, the VA case manager being onsite made it easier to reach any Veterans
who were applying for the regular HCV waiting list. Together they were able to reach
many Veterans who did not know about the HUD-VASH program.
The Butte County Housing Authority maintains that giving office space to the VA case
manager enabled “both housing staff and the VA to meet with and see clients in the
same building, in a coordinated effort, minimizing inconvenience and hassle to a
population that has transportation issues and an aversion to working with multiple
The Yakima Housing Authority reports that housing VA staff in their office “eliminates
the Veteran needing to go to more than one place to meet with staff from either source.
Think of a one-
stop shopping place.”
Back to the top.
3. VA management strategies
The following management strategies are simple steps initiated and carried out by VA facilities
that have significantly influenced the overall success of HUD-VASH sites. Extensive lists and
explanations of other VA strategies for HUD-
VASH can be found in the VA‟s
Including peer support specialists on HUD-VASH teams: For the Orlando VAMC, a
combination of clinical case management and peer support services has proven to be
extremely effective for engaging and assisting homeless Veterans. A peer support
specialist is a Veteran that serves as a role model for HUD-VASH Veterans by sharing his
or her own experiences with mental health issues and coping tools to overcome personal
challenges. After being issued a voucher, Veterans in Orlando are matched with peer
support specialists, who provide guidance and camaraderie
throughout the Veterans‟
participation in the program and help quell anxieties and uncertainties along the way. The
peer support specialists are able to quickly relate to Veterans, build rapport, broaden
ns‟ social networks,
and help Veterans stick to their plans and achieve their goals.
Dividing VA staff into teams that focus on specific communities: The Greater Los
Angeles VA Health System has divided HUD-VASH system into teams that focus on
serving Veterans that lease-up in specific neighborhoods within the metropolitan area.
This strategy has enabled VA staff to become more familiar with the culture and politics of
specific communities and develop working relationships with local organizations. As a
result, VA staff have increased their engagement and enrollment of Veterans, and they are
more effectively helping Veterans to navigate through community before and after leasing-
up. This staffing approach, as solidified at the Los Angeles HUD-VASH boot camp
June 2011, is particularly helpful for HUD-VASH sites in large metropolitan areas with
large allocations of vouchers.
Imbedding case managers in the communities where Veterans reside: Typically,
HUD-VASH case managers work from offices located in VA medical clinics. The VAMC
in Bedford, Massachusetts, decided to place case managers in community shelters, PHA
offices, and local Vet Centers, which enables the case managers to improve outreach to
homeless Veterans, while still meeting the needs of current HUD-VASH clients. The
VAMC has found that this practice has improved Veterans‟ attendance to appointments and
adherence to treatment plans, and it has fostered more effective working relationships with
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4. Assistance with security deposits and move-in costs
Hands down, the most common obstacle faced by Veterans during the lease-up process as
described by HUD-VASH sites is a lack of funds for security deposits and other move-in costs.
The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) has served as an important
resource for many sites across the country to address such needs of Veterans. However, HPRP
funds have been depleted, and, as a Housing and Economic Recovery Act program, the funds will
not be renewed. A few sites that found HPRP funds difficult to access developed unique strategies
for assisting Veterans with these expenses, which can help those sites that previously depended on
PHA revolving loan fund: Butte County Housing A
uthority‟s Board of Commissioners
authorized a $10,000 revolving loan fund from its unrestricted General Fund to assist
Veterans with move-in costs. The VA Services Coordinator determines the amount of
funds necessary in each case, and determines the terms of the repayment agreement, based
on any particular Veteran
‟s capacities and need.
Revolving loan fund through partnership with local banks: Yakima housing authority
also provides loans to Veteran
s with funds secured through local banks‟ community
reinvestment dollars. The money is repaid by the Veterans in small increments, which
refuels the loan fund and acts as a revolving account.
Maryland Veterans Trust Fund: The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs
(MDVA) has set up the Maryland Veterans Trust Fund
through legislation passed during
the 2009 session of the Maryland Assembly. The legislation authorizes MDVA to receive
donations, then make grants and loans to Veterans in dire financial situations and to private
organizations helping Veterans. Numerous corporations and individuals have made large
donations to the fund, which are tax deductible under state law as well as Title 26, US
Code, Section 170. MDVA has made a few donations to HUD-VASH participants for
security deposits and other move-in costs. The agency has expressed interest in attending
HUD-VASH briefings held by Maryland PHAs, at which HUD-VASH Veterans could
submit applications for assistance from the Trust Fund. Staff at MDVA collected
information on 20 other states that have a Veterans trust fund.
Community Development Block Grants: Early in the program, the Myrtle Beach
Housing Authority (MBHA) contacted the landlord and utility companies to ask for their
help with security and utility deposits. This was not always successful and was very time
consuming. MBHA subsequently applied to the Horry County Community Development
Block Grant (CDBG) program and received funds to assist with the deposits. The VA
caseworker determines the need and assists the Veteran with the required documentation. A
check for all or a portion of the deposits is issued as part of the lease up process.
Back to the top.
5. Assistance with furniture and other household items
Most Veterans participating in HUD-VASH also need help with furnishing their homes and
acquiring towels, sheets, silverware, and other household items. As described by the Butte County
Housing Authority, “it was found that there is nothing more chilling to a program participant than
to make it all the way through the lease-up process and then walk in to a home devoid of furniture
and the things necess
ary to the keeping and enjoyment of a home.”
Innovative strategies in this
Columbia Housing Authority‟s (CHA‟s) Homeless Programs
Department began reaching out to the community to “recycle” gently used and new items
for the VASH and PSH programs. CHA created a brochure, as well as carried out press
releases, local radio interviews for this effort. As a result, CHA received the following
The Judicial Advocacy Center donated 2400 towels, 600 pillows, 400 bedspreads,
lamps, irons, and chairs while doing a hotel renovation over the last 6 months.
The contents of a local hotel that had changed owners were donated to include bedroom
furniture and televisions.
Fifty beds and side tables were obtained when Fort Jackson Military Installation was
scheduled to demolish an old barracks.
Numerous donations from local citizens
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested