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Press Releases > Mayor Brown Attends White House Event on Effectively Ending Homelessness

Mayor Brown Attends White House Event on Effectively Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

November 14 - After recently accepting an invitation by First Lady Michelle Obama, Mayor Byron W. Brown, along with mayors from around the country, today traveled to Washington D.C. for a special White House event, recognizing their work on reducing homelessness among veterans.

Mayor Brown stated, “Over a year ago, the First Lady issued a challenge to us through the U.S. Conference of Mayors to work with partners in our community on initiatives to effectively end veteran homelessness. I’m proud to say that the city of Buffalo responded to the challenge and succeeded in bringing an effective end to Veteran homelessness in Buffalo.  Thanks to a strong collaboration between government agencies, our community’s service and housing professionals who assist veterans and our many other partners, Buffalo has demonstrated that ending veteran homelessness is achievable. I congratulate everyone involved who worked tirelessly to give our veterans a dignified home, setting an example for communities across the nation.”

Last month, Mayors of the Cities of Buffalo (Byron W. Brown), Niagara Falls (Paul Dyster), Lockport (Anne McCaffrey) and Tonawanda (Rick Davis) announced an effective end to Veteran homelessness in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to action through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in Western New York (WNY). The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and United States Department of Veterans Affairs hosted a special ceremony at the Buffalo History Museum, recognizing the four cities for achieving significant federal benchmarks that resulted in an effective system to quickly identify homeless Veterans, provide immediate shelter to any Veteran experiencing unsheltered homelessness who wants it and, once they accept an offer of housing, are able to house them within 90 days.

The Mayors’ Challenge was issued as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces Initiative June 4, 2014 as a goal to Prevent and End Veteran Homelessness before the end of 2017. The goal is to achieve and sustain “functional zero”—a well-coordinated and efficient community system that assures homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring and no Veteran is forced to live on the street. This means every Veteran has access to the support they need and want to move quickly to permanent housing.  This does not mean that there are no homeless Veterans or no Veteran will become homeless in the future, but does mean there is an effective system in place to quickly identify homeless Veterans and, once they accept an offer of housing, are able to house them within 90 days.

Efforts to effectively end Veteran homelessness in our community began well before the First Lady’s official call to action, with significant infrastructure and systems put in place to assist any Veteran in obtaining a permanent home in the City of Buffalo, City of Lockport, City of Niagara Falls, City of Tonawanda and all of Erie, Niagara Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming Counties. Going back to 2008 the WNY community, including federal, local, and nonprofit entities represented by Department of Veterans Affairs-VA WNY Healthcare System, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, the Homeless Alliance of WNY gained momentum and partners to resource Veterans homelessness. Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) providers such as Veterans One-stop Center of WNY, Veterans Outreach Center Inc., and Pathstones Corporation have been critical to achieving this designation. Other key partners to include Grant and Per Diem (GPD) providers Cazenovia Recovery Systems and Altamont Veterans Program, Contract Residence Providers Eagle Star and Cornerstone Manor, WNY Veterans Housing Coalition, the City Mission, Community Missions Shelters and Lockport Cares, as well as Continuum of Care (Coc) programs such as street outreach, Rapid Re-housing (RRH) and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) working together are essential for the prevention of Veteran homelessness.

If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, contact VA Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program at 716-862-8885, 1-877-4AID-VET 24 hours a day/7 days a week or the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 to be connected to VA services.