Throw Money at a Problem and Government Can Succeed

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working toward and end to veterans homelessness.  They have set the end of 2015 as the goal for an end to veterans homelessness and it looks like Cleveland is close.  This only proves that governement can solve problems and that throwing money at a problem can solve social service issues. 

We are reaching "functional zero" which is the point at which there is no one left without help.  There is no veteran left behind without a place to stay.  No one has not been screened and is on track to get into housing.  We are approaching that point in Cleveland.  We have only two veterans living outside and all the vets in shelter are moving toward housing.  There are vacancies at almost all the veteran's only beds in the community.  It is becoming harder to fill the women only and men's vet beds, and the VOA new facility on Euclid is really helping to move people into housing.  They are quickly moving veterans who show up into permanent housing even those with huge barriers to overcome.  It has been impressive to see the coordination and the work done in Cleveland to end veterans homelessness. 

We still need to work on families who become homeless and families who the veteran passes away not related to his service.  Overall, we have seen a huge decline in the number of veterans in Cleveland who are homeless over the last five years.  There is a separate court for veterans.  There are housing vouchers for vets.  There are employment programs and coordinated intake sites just for vets.  There is a separate medical system that has not been plagued by the problems in other communities.  We have a really nice hospital and a pretty good behavioral health system for veterans.  There are civil rights protections for veterans and resources available for most intangibles.  A veteran can go to the Veterans Service Commission in any Ohio County to get funds to repair their car to get to work or to purchase identification or buy emergency food after an unexpected bill shows up.  The point is that we have designed a strong safety net for veterans and we are making significant process toward "functional zero."

This should dispel the myth that government cannot solve problems.  We have spent 35 years trying to solve homelessness, but we have never provided enough resources to actually do anything but tread water.  We have never provided enough housing vouchers or built enough affordable housing.  We have never provided enough rental assistance to get people back on their feet.  We have paid only lip service to civil rights protections in housing, law enforcement, and employment.  We have a judicial system that is not serving poor people and until last year a large portion of the low income population did not have access to health insurance.  We still have a pathetic behaviorial health system and do not have an effective way to get emergency resources to families struggling in our community.  Now, we have a map to solve a problem with veterans who became homeless.  If we throw money at a problem, we can solve that community issue.  Next up to solve the problem of family homelessness. 

Brian Davis

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