A Paradigm Shift For The State Of Virginia

Posted on January 4, 2011

An amazing thing happened at the 2010 Governor’s Housing Conference in November.  Governor McDonnell and his senior economic advisor, Bob Sledd, announced an overall goal to reduce homelessness in the State by at least 15% by 2013, from 8,883 to 7,550.  Why is this so remarkable? Because the Commonwealth of Virginia has actually never established a goal to reduce homelessness before!

Bob Sledd chaired the Homeless Outcomes Advisory Committee that helped to create these objectives and craft this bold initiative. The Committee was comprised of Cabinet level State agency representatives as well as numerous providers. I was lucky enough to be a part of this group, which also sought input from stakeholders throughout the state.

Not only is there an overall goal, but there are specific objectives and strategies that were developed to help meet this goal.  The most ambitious objectives call for a 15% increase in the number of permanent supportive housing units for fiscal year 2012 and 20% for 2013 above the current inventory.  This is an acknowledgement of the importance and success of permanent supportive housing in solving the problem of homelessness for a large segment of the homeless population.

Another specific objective, related to homeless prevention and rapid rehousing, sets a target increase of 10% in the number of individuals and families placed in permanent housing. The fact that we are going to concentrate on prevention and permanent housing as opposed to emergency and short term shelter solutions is extremely exciting and novel. It’s a true paradigm shift for the State of Virginia. Instead of paying to keep our emergency shelter beds occupied, we will be paying to empty them out and keep them empty!

This is a very exciting time for the Commonwealth of Virginia. While there is no additional funding to accomplish this effort, new and existing resources will be prioritized in order to ensure that these objectives are accomplished. With Bob Sledd as the champion leading the charge, I have no doubt that we will accomplish this goal.

As we begin 2011, I am optimistic that the State will do everything in its power to shift its efforts from managing homelessness to preventing and ending it.  VSH is very happy to participate and help lead this effort. To support our proven permanent solutions in the new year, click here.

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