Bright Spot: Washington D.C. | Optimize VA Transitional Housing and Grant Per Diem (GPD)

September 25, 2019

Meet with GPD agency-level leadership to hear their concerns about changing program models or re-purposing VA Transitional Housing funding

Check out this Bright Spot if…

  • Your community needs to meaningfully engage and integrate VA Transitional Housing and GPD programs into the housing crisis response system.
  • You have GPD programs in your community and you want to try it!


Washington D.C. implemented a “100 day challenge”, with the goal of making progress toward functional zero on veteran homelessness. During this process the community became aware of a lack of coordination between GPD and non-GPD providers.

In order to implement housing first effectively, and in order to reach functional zero, Washington D.C. discovered it needed to reduce the number of homeless individuals in GPD. The GPD system and the homeless system were aware of a need for such coordination but had never coordinated in a meaningful way before.

Key action: Bring Leadership along

Executive leadership from GPD programs were invited to attend the weekly coordinated entry meeting in Washington, D.C., as well as bi-monthly leadership meetings on the city’s plan to end veteran homelessness. GPD providers and Rapid Re-Housing providers were skeptical of each other in the beginning.

Meetings included an analysis of monthly data from HMIS, and individual goal setting for providers, including SSVF and GPD programs. These meetings also provide an opportunity to troubleshoot and brainstorm together.

Because of new coordination efforts between GPD and non-GPD providers, the community is now more closely aligned on goals, with a better understanding of the usefulness of transitional housing. GPD providers have adopted some of the Rapid Re-Housing mentality, removing certain requirements and restrictions and leading to more and quicker exits to permanent housing. 

As an additional result of the new coordination effort, veterans also now have supports they can lean on when exiting GPD. As a result, lengths of stay in GPD have dropped from more than a year to 150-160 days. 

Key Action: Create Urgency

Find your champion. Find the person with the will and resources to make things happen. Sometimes communities insist “that’s never going to work here” — and that’s where Washington started.

Much of the coordination work took place in the context of a 100-day challenge. The urgency of the 100-day goal forced the community to look for new opportunities to collaborate. Such initiatives also require a strong leader who can take ownership of the project, and who can maintain a bird’s-eye-view of all resources and relationships in the system serving homeless veterans in the community.

Fail Forward Moments

In the early stages of collaboration, there was a proposal to disaggregate the data to determine which programs needed the most improvement. There was strong backlash to this. Even though program-level data might have been beneficial to the work, the community realized it was also important to keep the entire group engaged and accountable for progress.