Nevada County, California, has rounded the final turn to enter the last mile on their path to ending veteran homelessness in their community. With 23 veterans experiencing homelessness on their by-name list, the Nevada County Built for Zero team is continuing to improve its homeless response system with the hopes of reaching functional zero in the coming months.
From one population to everyone
The latest update of the community’s monthly data demonstrates that the community has 23 veterans who are experiencing homelessness. In order to reach functional zero, the community will continue to reduce the number of veterans experiencing homelessness to three or fewer. To date, only 12 communities have been certified nationally for achieving functional zero for veteran homelessness. Functional zero is a milestone that demonstrates that the community has fewer veterans experiencing homelessness than can be routinely housed.
“We’re in a historic moment of resources, opportunity, and momentum. Everything from our data, to our resources, to our teamwork tells us this goal is within reach.”
Achieving functional zero for this initial population is part of a strategy to yield long-term benefits for the whole of Nevada County. Built for Zero communities that have ended homelessness for one population are often able to apply those learnings to end homelessness for the next population — working systematically towards ending homelessness for all.
“We are serious about this goal, and achieving it will mean pulling together local, state, and national efforts and resources to help Nevada County residents,” said Ryan Gruver, Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency Director. “We’re in a historic moment of resources, opportunity, and momentum. Everything from our data, to our resources, to our teamwork tells us this goal is within reach.”
Influx of resources from the pandemic
The Nevada County community is in a unique moment to accelerate its progress toward functional zero. Additional resources have been made available because of HUD’s COVID-19 funds and emergency vouchers. Members of the Continuum of Care and broader community partners have leveraged both new and existing funding to help address housing supply gaps.
“Thanks to an influx of resources, expanded collaboration among service providers, and good quality real-time data, we have the ability to work together and build a strong support system to house people faster and keep them housed,” said Brendan Phillips, Nevada County Housing Resource Manager. “All we need are the units and willing landlords who can fuel this effort to end veteran homelessness.”
Additional housing is set to become available through the Brunswick Commons Project with 41 new units of housing for people experiencing homelessness by January. The community is also leasing 31 units of Senior Housing at Lone Oak in Penn Valley, and more workforce housing will be available at Cashin’s Field in Nevada City in the spring of 2022. Volunteers of America Northern California and Northern Nevada also has funding that can be used to subsidize the rent of veterans experiencing homelessness.
“Nobody should have to experience homelessness, particularly the brave people who put their lives on the line to protect this country. Working together as a community, we can end veteran homelessness,” said Jennifer Price, CEO of AMI Housing.
Community collaboration and case conferencing
The county’s “Better Together” initiative has been a deliberate effort to involve the entire community in taking action to support their most vulnerable neighbors. By supporting innovative and meaningful collaboration with key stakeholders and inviting community members to become part of the solution towards ending homelessness, Better Together intentionally highlights collaborative, proven solutions committed to end homelessness in Nevada County.
Each week, the community’s nonprofits gather to discuss their real-time, by-name data of every veteran experiencing homelessness, looking at available resources and matching them with the services and support they need to exit homelessness. This practice, known as case conferencing, brings together local organizations and agencies, including Hospitality House, AMI housing, Volunteers of America, Federal Veteran Administration Partners, Connecting Point 2-1-1, and others.
“We are building solutions through a sustainable and coordinated effort,” said Jennifer Price, of AMI Housing. “All of our community’s nonprofits are working together each week to look at our list of every veteran experiencing homelessness, coordinate our available resources, and match these veterans with the services and support they need.”
The community has also established systems and partnerships to strengthen the system of support available for veterans. The Nevada County Veterans Services Office (NCVSO) has built strong collaborative relationships with local veterans organizations and the VA to provide temporary hotel vouchers and immediate food assistance. The NCVSO has also worked with the VA to establish processes that allow for the timely referral for vouchers from the federal government, health treatment, and self-treatment rehabilitation.
“Coming together to use all the tools available to us is the best way to ensure a safe and sustainable home, something we all deserve.”
“Many people aren’t aware of how closely we work together to address this complex problem,” said Nancy Baglietto, Executive Director of Hospitality House shelter and Board President of the Nevada County Continuum of Care. “Just as there is no one reason a person becomes homeless, there is no one perfect solution. Coming together to use all the tools available to us is the best way to ensure a safe and sustainable home, something we all deserve.”
The work is not over
“This is not about a single moment, but establishing a new reality where veteran homelessness remains rare and brief when it occurs,” said David West, Nevada County Veterans Services Officer. “We can get there, but we will need community support too.”
Resources are available for landlords interested in helping a veteran experiencing homelessness in Nevada County. AMI Housing, Inc (AMIH) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people find and remain in their housing and is seeking landlord partners. A team of dedicated staff is available to quickly respond to your calls and provide ongoing partnership. To learn more, contact them at HCTeam@amihousing.com or (530) 878-5088.