Phila milestone in ending vet homelessness

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

We all know that the vast majority of America’s veterans return home and go on to find good jobs, build strong families, and keep on serving our country in their workplaces, congregations, and communities. But we also know that today, in cities and towns across this nation, there are men and women who wore America’s uniform in wars as far back as Vietnam and Korea — and as recent as Iraq and Afghanistan — but don’t have a roof over their heads.

For too many years, the conventional wisdom has been that veterans’ homelessness is an impossible problem — too big and entrenched to ever really solve.

We disagree — as do our husbands. That’s why, in 2014, we launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, and since then, more than 800 city and county officials have committed to ending veteran homelessness in their communities. Here in Philadelphia, officials and advocates have worked for months to track down every homeless veteran in this city, get to know each of them by name, and collaborate with landlords to quickly find permanent housing for them. And today, Philadelphia has fulfilled its commitment, proudly announcing that this city has ended veteran homelessness and can quickly provide permanent housing for any veteran who becomes homeless in the future.

In doing so, Philadelphia joins cities across the country — including Houston, Mobile, Syracuse, Las Vegas, and New Orleans — as well as the entire state of Virginia. Together, they have shown us that ending veterans’ homelessness isn’t just our moral obligation, it is a realistic, achievable goal, if we summon the will and devote resources equal to the task.

That’s what President Obama and Vice President Biden have done since they first took office: They have made veterans’ homelessness a government-wide priority, cutting through the bureaucracy and devoting record amounts of funding and resources to house our veterans.

The results have been dramatic: Since 2010, veteran homelessness has decreased by 36 percent, and we’ve housed nearly 230,000 veterans and their family members through government housing vouchers and homelessness programs.

But while we’re making important progress, we believe that one homeless veteran is still one too many. Our veterans have risked their lives for our country, and when they don’t even have a place to go when it rains, that is an outrage and a stain on this nation. Our work will not be finished until every veteran has a place to call home and every community has the tools it needs to keep veterans from sliding back into homelessness, so we urge other cities to follow Philadelphia’s lead.

And as we approach the fifth anniversary of our Joining Forces initiative — a nationwide effort to rally all Americans to recognize, honor, and support our veterans, troops, and military families — we plan to keep working with state and local officials, landlords, advocates, and others to help all veterans find safe, affordable housing in their communities.

But government can’t do this alone. We need businesses, nonprofit organizations, faith communities, and others across the country to pitch in as well. City by city, state by state, we have plenty of work to do together to solve this problem.

And of course, ending veteran homelessness today doesn’t mean that we’ll never see another veteran on our streets in the future. But it does mean that when a veteran experiences a housing crisis, Philadelphia — and other cities across the country — will be prepared to get them back into a home right away.

That is the very least we can do to serve America’s heroes as well as they have served this country.

Contact First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden via @joiningforces or



U.S. HUD Secretary Castro Lauds City Effortsnuttercastro

Philadelphia, December 17, 2015 — Mayor Michael A. Nutter, joined by Julián Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced that the City of Philadelphia has effectively ended veteran homelessness by ensuring veterans have access to housing and services. With this announcement, Philadelphia has met President Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015.

“Too often, veterans find themselves struggling with issues like homelessness and poverty and that is a shame. For those who gave so much of themselves to this Nation, there is no reason why they should be left out in the cold,” said Mayor Nutter. “Today, I am happy to report that homelessness among veterans in Philadelphia is now rare, brief and non-recurring. In other words, Philadelphia has effectively ended veteran homelessness for those who want a home.”

On December 15, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) notified Mayor Nutter that the agency had confirmed that the City of Philadelphia has the necessary systems, services, resources and housing inventory in place to respond quickly and effectively to prevent and end homelessness among the veteran population should those veterans seek help.

“Safe, stable housing is the foundation for a life of opportunity, but too many people across the nation don’t have a place to call home each night,” said Secretary Castro. “Today in Philadelphia, it’s clear how much can be accomplished when everyone works as a team to serve the most vulnerable in our communities. The city and its many partners have stepped up to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and have every reason to celebrate this incredible achievement.”

The letter to Mayor Nutter from the USICH Executive Director Matthew Doherty read in part, “We are confident that the infrastructure and systems you have built will ensure that any veteran experiencing a housing crisis in Philadelphia will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home.”

The Mayors Challenge was issued by First Lady Michelle Obama. The City of Philadelphia collaborated with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and other service providers in the region to accomplish this goal. This coalition of agencies is known as PhillyVetsHome. So far, PhillyVetsHome has helped 1,390 veterans and resources are available to help other veterans who come forward seeking help.

U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah, whose district includes the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, said, “As an appropriator I’ve been proud to help fund programs like Housing First which successfully provided support and re-housing services to Philadelphia’s homeless veterans and their families. Today, we witness the true impact of these programs as we announce an effective end to veteran homelessness in our community. This is a monumental day for the city, and I commend the efforts of all involved—especially Mayor Nutter, President Obama, and Secretary Castro. I know the vision and leadership from Philadelphia’s effort will continue to support communities around the country as we work towards an end to veteran homelessness nationwide.”




Today we are gathering to #RallyForZero! As we reach the homestretch in Ending Veteran Homelessness, we will gather together in unity to show we will march on until ALL of Philadelphia’s Veterans are home…

Meet us in Love Park today at 4:00PM if YOU are #ReadyForZero, too!!

Find us in Camouflage!


Tomorrow when we #RallyForZero, we will all wear camouflage t-shirts to symbolize the unity of our coalition and the often invisibility of an important and issue: Veteran Homelessness.

As we gather in Love Park (16th & JFK) and march down Broad Street, we hope to bring Veteran Homelessness to the forefront and encourage the public to join us in this “homestretch” to Veterans Day!

Are you ready to #RallyforZero?


Philly Vets Home 2015 partners will be joined by community supporters as we embark on the final month of our journey to END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS in the City of Philadelphia!

#RallyforZero is expected to gather hundreds of Veterans, advocates and members of the community in a demonstration of support. After a short program in Love Park, participants will march on Broad Street to raise awareness of the ongoing initiative.

Will you join us and #RallyforZero?



Join us for light refreshments and coffee at our Landlord Appreciation Event!

  • Give us feedback about how we can make our program better.
  • Hear more about the benefits of partnering with PASSVF.
  • Get answers to your questions about our housing program for formerly homeless veterans.
  • Meet other landlords who have partnered with our agency.

When: Tuesday, October 20th @ 9:30am – 10:30am

Where: JBJ Soul Homes, Community Room

RSVP by October 10th to Brad Landry 215-232-7272 ext. 3074 or

Thank you for partnering with PASSVF, to house and support veterans in our community!

See the Landlord Event Invitation!

25 Cities Effort provides stable housing to homeless Veterans

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), launched the 25 Cities Effort in March 2014. Philadelphia is one of 25 Cities identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs with exceptionally high concentrations of homeless Veterans and selected to intensify and integrate local efforts to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Philadelphia’s 25 Cities Effort has culminated in the Philly Vets Home 2015 Coalition. This Campaign is driven by collaboration between VA, HUD, the 25 Cities Offices, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and four non-profit organizations who have committed to end homelessness among Veterans in Philadelphia by Veterans Day 2015.

The Veterans Multi-Service Center (VMC) is one of four Philly Vets Home non-profit partners that receives technical assistance through the 25 Cities Effort to mobilize local planning efforts, strengthen partnerships, and create effective and coordinated systems to end Veteran homelessness.

Green with Brinson“I was not aware of all the housing programs [the Veterans Multi-Service Center] had, until I finally got connected with one of them. And since then it’s been a lot better; a lot better. It’s one of the best things that can happen,” Thomas Green.

Before entering the Veterans Multi-Service Center’s (VMC) Shelter Plus Care Program, Thomas Green, an Army Veteran who served from 1976 to 1983, struggled with multiple episodes of homelessness spanning the past twenty years. Mr. Green bounced between various local shelters, including time spent at the Coatesville VA Domiciliary, before being housed through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF), only to be evicted after losing his income. With the assistance and ongoing support of his SSVF case manager, Mr. Green has found a stable home in VMC’s Shelter Plus Care Program. This program aids clients in maintaining housing stability by providing case management as well as other supportive services to address different health needs.

Collaboration between various VA programs has been integral to finding Mr. Green stable housing and case management services. As a previous participant in SSVF, a current client of Perimeter, a homeless day program funded by the VA Grant and Per Diem program, and having a community actively involved in the 25 Cities Effort, Green is a perfect example of how coordinated services produce positive results.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Green’s outlook on the future has changed for the better since being housed: “[Housing] has just changed me 150%; it changed my whole outlook,” said Mr. Green during one recent conversation. Mr. Green is now able to spend time focusing on his finances, health, and employment instead of where he will spend the night, or where he will find his next meal. “I can plan things now. I can see my family more. I don’t have to go around my family and worry about leaving at a certain time to get back to the shelter system. I don’t have to worry about the place giving out the food, I can go home and fix my own food. If I want to sit down and read the newspaper from back to front, which I like to do, I can do it.”

Housing provides freedom and stability; it provides a foundation off which other challenges can more easily be conquered. It is this belief that drives the sincere and passionate involvement in the Philadelphia 25 Cities Initiative and the Philly Vets Home Coalition.

Another Veteran who faced struggles similar to Mr. Green and exited homelessness with a renewed commitment to improve his life is Delvin Brinson. Brinson has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to Mr. Green, and many others.

Brinson, much like Green, enjoyed the structure and comradery he found while serving in the 2nd and 63rd Mechanized Division of the Army from 1979 to 1985. Mr. Brinson began experiencing homelessness beginning in 1998. Through his involvement in VMC transitional housing, Brinson participated in job training and computer classes and has now moved into permanent housing and found employment through the VMC as a Veteran Outreach Specialist. Today, Brinson is a key asset to the Outreach Team at VMC due to his skills in building relationships and trust with other homeless Veterans through their shared experiences.

Brinson explained stating: “Once they hear my story and they look at themselves… and see that I’ve done it and I’m working with this organization, trying to explain to them that [VMC] can help them, then they begin to build a little trust.”

Both Green and Brinson agree, trust is paramount for getting homeless Veterans connected to service organizations, like the Philly Vets Home partners. These non-profit organizations, and federal and local government agencies, are able to give Veterans the services they deserve, but Veterans must trust these services and the staff they interact with in order to reach out for help. The two also expressed the need to better inform homeless Veterans of the services available at individual organizations and through the Coalition more broadly.

The Philly Vets Home 2015 Coalition has placed approximately 1,100 Veterans into housing so far, an amazing achievement, but there is still a lot to accomplish, especially considering the goal of ending Veteran homelessness in Philadelphia by Veterans Day 2015.

Still, as the Coalition presses forward, it’s integral that the public and the broader community become a part of the mission. If the community comes together there will be even more good news stories to share, like those of Brinson and Green. Philly Vets Home partners believe that nobody who fought for this country should have to fight for housing, a job, or the healthcare that they need and deserve.

Department of Veteran Affairs Blog – VAntagepoint
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) 

Officials Poised To Declare Success In Ending Veteran Homelessness

Charles Bouges shares his story of homelessness. (credit: Pat Loeb)

Charles Bouges shares his story of homelessness. (credit: Pat Loeb)

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former Army ranger Charles Bouges has an all-too-common story.

“I had a mishap, lost my job, lost my wife, went through depression, just kind of gave up and didn’t have a place to stay,” he says.

Bouges found himself on the street, contributing to the grim statistics on veteran homelessness.

Now, he is a symbol of success for a collaborative effort to end veteran homelessness. City, federal and non-profit officials say they are closing in on their goal and expect that by November 11th, this year, they will reach what they call “functional zero” for the number of veterans living on the street– a measure that takes into account that some veterans may drift into homelessness but the effort will insure they will be quickly moved into permanent housing.

“Functional zero means that homelessness among veterans is rare, brief and non-recurring,” says Casey McCollum, Acting Homeless Coordinator at the VA Medical Center in West Philadelphia.

She says the collaboration, called PhillyVetsHome, has housed 1,126 veterans since it began in August 2013. There are another 280 in transitional housing that will soon be permanently housed and, she says, 31 who outreach workers are trying to bring into the system.

“I’ve never worked with anything that has had this much success, this much collaboration,” says Marie Nahikian, Philadelphia’s Director of Supportive Housing. “Agencies put down their barriers, set aside their rules and said, ‘figure out how to make this work’ and that commitment is phenomenal.”

She also says additional resources have helped, though officials were unable to say how much the effort has cost because so many agencies are involved. Nahikian says, though, whatever the cost, it is less expensive than the cost of leaving veterans on the street.

For Bouges, it was seeking medical attention at VA Medical Center that brought him into the system. Following his visit, he was directed to outreach workers who immediately offered him temporary housing and enrolled him in a detox and rehabilitation program.

In six months, he’d been assigned permanent housing.

“I’m in my place now. I’m happy,” he says. “The program really works for veterans.”