NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In a ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced on Wednesday that the state of Virginia has become the first state in the nation to functionally end veteran homelessness.
Virginia received certification of this accomplishment from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Oct. 1.
According to the certification’s criteria, the state of Virginia was able to identify and provide shelter and transitional housing in certain situations for veterans and has the capacity to assist veterans into permanent housing.
In June of 2014, McAuliffe committed Virginia to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” and pledged to end veteran homelessness by this year. More than 20 mayors and county chairs have signed on to that pledge since then.
Hampton Mayor George Wallace, Newport News Mayor McKinley Price, DDS, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and Chesapeake Mayor Alan Krasnoff were among the 20 local leaders who declared their commitment.
McAuliffe said, “This is an important victory in our ongoing efforts to make our Commonwealth the best place on earth for veterans to live, work and raise a family. However, we must remain committed to keeping homelessness among veterans, and, all Virginians, rare, brief and non-recurring.”
The City of Norfolk also released a statement on Wednesday, stating that the city reached its goal to end veteran homelessness ahead of tits Dec. 31 deadline.
“Veteran homelessness is a social problem that can be solved,” Fraim said. “The region came together and focused its resources to create solutions. Our efforts will continue, to ensure those who protected our freedom have a path back home.”
In collaboration with The Planning Council, Norfolk worked with Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Franklin, Isle of Wight and Southampton County and formed the South Hampton Roads Veterans Leadership Initiative. So far, 297 homeless veterans have been housed or are on their way to housing.
The state is continuing to work to aid veterans with its local and national partners, and is even working on expanding its network to non-traditional partners such as Dominion Virginia Power.