Virginia’s overall homelessness rate drops by 8 percent

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Gov.  Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that the state is making headway toward reducing statewide homelessness. Citing data compiled by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, the governor announced that overall homelessness declined 8 percent from 9,080 people in 2010 to 8,392 in 2012.

For families the reduction was more pronounced, with the numbers dropping 11 percent, from 3,742 people in homeless families in 2010 to 3,323 people in 2012. Additionally the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness in Virginia dropped 36 percent, from 1,510 in 2010 to 962 in 2012. McDonnell credited a shifting of state resources from traditional shelter services to rapid re-housing as the primary reason behind the reductions.

“Affordable and safe housing is a fundamental component of healthy and prosperous communities,” the governor said in a statement. “And though we still have much more to accomplish toward our goal of reducing homelessness, we should be encouraged that the strategic policies we’ve implemented, along with our partners, yield real and lasting results.” 

Early in his tenure, McDonnell issued an executive order to create a housing policy framework.  His administration’s goal was to reduce overall homelessness by 15 percent by 2013.  That’s why it supported a shift in focusing resources to rapid re-housing, by moving people into permanent housing more quickly while providing other services through community resources.

Of particular interest for McDonnell has been the status of veterans experiencing homelessness. Between 2011 and 2012, he said there was a 7 percent reduction in the number of veterans who were homeless because of increased resources available to the veterans, including Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers.

McDonnell’s announcement coincided with the 2012 Governor’s Housing Conference, being held in Roanoke this week.


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