2018 Community Partnership Award
HONORABLE MENTION AWARD RECIPIENT
Ending Veteran Homelessness
In a country as prosperous as the United States, no one should be without a place to call home. Yet, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that every night, more than 40,000 veterans experience homelessness, and another 1.4 million are considered at risk due to poverty and other reasons.
For nearly 25 years, Community Rebuilders has worked to end homelessness in Kent County, Michigan, through housing opportunities and support services for families in transition. In 2016, after receiving the Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Community Rebuilders began the Ending Veteran Homelessness program with a pledge to end veteran homelessness in Kent County. Within two years, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness certified Kent as the first county in Michigan and the 54th county in the nation to effectively achieve that goal.
In achieving this success, Community Rebuilders demonstrated how transformative change is made possible when space is opened for new ideas, citizens are trusted to know what’s best for themselves and collaboration around public problem-solving is improved. Through the Ending Veteran Homelessness program, Community Rebuilders identified specific services and support needed to end veteran homelessness and then asked community partners to formally identify, pledge and commit to the resources they could deliver in a dedicated manner. At the same time, they organized a multiagency outreach team to find and name every homeless veteran in Kent County. Based on what they learned from veterans about their needs and wants, Community Rebuilders developed an assessment tool to prioritize and connect current veterans to appropriate services, including transitional housing, rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing.
“We’ve been able to bring hope to veterans who are struggling by providing strengths‐based, consumer‐driven housing options,” said Vera Beech, Executive Director. “Since 2016, more than 600 homeless veterans have gained access to safe and decent housing of their choosing. As we look into the future, Community Rebuilders remains dedicated to ensuring that homelessness in Kent County will be rare, brief and nonrecurring for the men and women who valiantly served our country.”