Arkansas Legionnaire, VA manager credit collaboration in surpassing goal to house homeless veterans

Arkansas Legionnaire, VA manager credit collaboration in surpassing goal to house homeless veterans

In 2022, the Department of Veterans Affairs set a goal of finding permanent housing for 38,000 homeless veterans nationwide. The VA exceeded that goal, permanently housing 40,401 veterans.

Among the local VA’s helping surpass the goal was the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS). CAVHS’ goal was to permanently house 158 veterans; instead, the system provided 225 permanent housing placements to homeless veterans, 142% of its goal.

“This goal was achieved through the hard work and dedication of our VA Day Treatment Center’s Homeless Programs staff, our grantees and contractors and our valued community partners,” said Dr. Margie Scott, Medical Center Director. “The progress we are seeing with eliminating homelessness among veterans in our 46-county catchment area shows that we have the right solutions.”

Permanent housing placements provided by VA staff and community partners included apartments or houses that veterans could rent or own, often with a subsidy to help make the housing affordable. VA staff also helped some veterans end their homelessness by reuniting with family and friends.

“Little Rock is always open to any challenge that stands to reduce the prevalence of Veteran homelessness,” said Dr. Estella Morris, Program Manager of CAVHS’ VA Comprehensive Homeless Center of Excellence. Dr. Morris is also a member of American Legion Post 74 in North Little Rock and a consultant for The American Legion Veterans Education, Other Benefits and Homeless Committee.

Morris credited the extensive collaboration internally between staff of the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program located at the Veterans Day Treatment Center in Little Rock, and employees of the Homeless Domiciliary and the Transitional Residence Programs located on the CAVHS North Little Rock campus, with helping surpass their goal.

And collaboration with external partners is also a key factor contributing to the success of CAVHS in housing veterans, she said.

“Over the past 31 years, Mr. Lee Jeffrey, a VA retiree, and member of Michael Vann Johnson Jr. American Legion Post 74, has directed an annual benefit golf tournament to support the efforts of veterans transitioning into permanent housing, along with multiple other community-based partners,” Morris said.

“Not only has CAVHS worked fervently with the Metropolitan Housing Alliance in Little Rock and North Little Rock and Pulaski County Public Housing authorities, but we have also worked tirelessly through the quarterly Community Homeless Assessment Local Education Networking Group (CHALENG) process, the HUD Continuums of Care and the Region 6 Interagency Council on Homelessness, to extend services beyond Central Arkansas to rural areas of the state,” Morris said.