WASHINGTON, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan will open the 16th Annual Conference of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) in Washington, D.C., May 29-31. More than 700 representatives of community-based organizations and local government agencies serving homeless veterans will participate in the three-day training event at the Grand Hyatt Washington.
There has been a decrease in the number of homeless veterans each night on the streets of America, according to VA and HUD estimates, from nearly 154,000 in 2008 to 62,600 in 2012. VA officials credit much of that decrease to the agency's partnership with community-based organizations that help homeless veterans, more than 400 of which are NCHV members.
In 2009, President Barack Obama made ending veteran homelessness a priority of his administration, and VA Secretary Shinseki responded by unveiling the Five-Year Plan to End Veteran Homelessness, incorporated into the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness the following year. The plan calls for increasing homeless and low-income veteran access to affordable housing, health services, employment and other income supports, and homelessness prevention assistance.
More than 700 community organizations now receive VA grants to provide housing and services to more than 30,000 homeless veterans each year, and about half of those will be attending this year's NCHV Annual Conference. Secretary Shinseki currently serves as the chairman of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
HUD Secretary Donovan – who has spearheaded expansion of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to nearly 60,000 Section 8 vouchers for disabled and extreme low-income veterans – serves as the vice chairman of the council. Both Shinseki and Donovan have received the Jerald Washington Memorial Founder's Award, the highest honor bestowed by the nation's homeless veteran assistance community.
For the third consecutive year, The Home Depot Foundation is the lead sponsor for the NCHV Annual Conference. Two years ago the Foundation launched the "Veterans Initiative," pledging $30 million to ensure every veteran has a safe place to call home. Last year at the NCHV Annual Conference, the Foundation pledged an additional $50 million to provide grants to organizations that create safe, affordable housing opportunities for homeless and low-income veterans and their families. Foundation president Kelly Caffarelli will serve as a featured speaker during the conference opening session.
Citi Community Development is the exclusive financial services sponsor of the conference, and one of five Platinum Level Corporate Partners of NCHV. Citi has provided expertise and leadership to local initiatives helping service providers convert foreclosed and abandoned properties into housing opportunities for homeless and at-risk veteran families. Citi Vice President and Director of Community Development Natalie Abatemarco will participate in the opening session and workshops on veteran access to housing.
Faculty for the 34 instructional workshops at the conference represents a wealth of experience and expertise. Focus tracks include specialized and affordable housing and services; federal partners; veteran employment and income security; public policy issues; and legal services to remove barriers to housing and employment.
"This conference brings together the nation's veteran service providers, the federal agencies invested in their work, and the corporate and philanthropic partners that are so vital to local initiatives to end and prevent veteran homelessness," said NCHV President and CEO John Driscoll. "And it has been growing steadily for several years.
"As a nation, we have never been as united in the campaign to end veteran homelessness as we are at this hour. The leadership of President Obama and the Congress in this resolve will be abundantly apparent at this conference. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the thousands of men and women across the nation who are dedicated to keeping the Five-Year Plan to End Veteran Homelessness on track."
For more information about the 2013 NCHV Annual Conference, go to www.nchv.org.
SOURCE National Coalition for Homeless Veterans