The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday finalized the County’s strategy to end veteran homelessness by December 2020, directing County staff to contract with a housing navigator to assist veterans in their search for housing.
Marching Home: A Strategy to End Veteran Homelessness in Orange County will develop a systematic, intentional and sustainable multi-sector response to veterans in need of assistance and promote coordination of and collaboration with many partners to meet veterans’ needs.
“Our veterans have to overcome serious barriers in order to secure housing, which is why connecting them with housing navigation services is critical. We have to get people out of the shelters and into supportive housing,” said Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District Supervisor.
After the 2019 Point In Time counted 311 veterans experiencing homelessness, the Board directed the Office of Care Coordination to create a strategy to end veteran homelessness.
“We must take care of the men and women who served our country. We are making progress with Marching Home, by connecting homeless veterans to the resources and services they need, including their families,” said Vice Chair Michelle Steel, Second District Supervisor.
The strategy aims to reach out to and provide all veterans access to available housing resources by December 2020. The County has collaborated with the Department of Veterans Affairs to host Veteran Housing Resource Fairs in all three regional Service Planning areas to engage veterans experiencing homelessness. Central and North Service Planning Areas had their resource fairs in June and July. The South Service Planning Area resource fair is scheduled for August 30.
“Housing homeless veterans is more than a goal that sounds good; it’s a moral imperative. Marching Home is yet another component in the County’s System of Care that will meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities, especially our deserving veterans,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, First District.
Resources for veterans include vouchers for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing, or HUD-VASH. Currently 80 veterans have a HUD-VASH voucher and are searching for available housing unit. The Orange County, Anaheim and Santa Ana housing authorities have another 400 HUD-VASH vouchers to issue to veterans seeking housing.
“This a major step towards providing housing for our deserving veterans in Orange County. No person, let alone our veterans who fought for our country, should go without shelter. These resources will help better serve the men and women who bravely served us,” said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner, Third District.
To provide more housing by December 2020, 139 HUD-VASH project-based units are under development, including the 75-unit Santa Ana Veterans Village opening in March 2020, 49-unit Placentia Veterans Village in August 2020 and the 15-unit Salerno at Cypress in September 2020.
“The Point In Time was more than a count, it was a resource discussion. We learned what those who experience homelessness need so we are more focused than before,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fourth District.
This article was released by the County of Orange.