VA St. Louis Health Care System
Ending veteran homelessness by 2015
The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking decisive action to end veteran homelessness. To meet this mandate, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki set a goal to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015. This plan states that all veterans at risk for homelessness, or attempting to exit homelessness, must have easy access to VA programs and services. The St. Louis social work team is committed to this mandate and continues to work throughout the community to provide outreach, education and supportive services to our homeless veterans in need.
The homeless veteran program in St. Louis has developed a synchronized, five-year plan that supports Secretary Shinseki’s goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by 2015. This plan includes coordinating comprehensive, recovery-focused services; promoting healthy living; educating the community; and advocating for veterans.
Each year, the St. Louis homeless program hosts an annual Homeless Veteran Summit, during which time over 70 VA, community providers, and veterans come together to discuss their progress toward ending veteran homelessness.
Joanne Joseph is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked with homeless and community mental health issues for ten years. Joseph has served as the St. Louis VA’s homeless program coordinator since 2010, and over the past few years, has seen the program really grow and make strides in helping homeless veterans.
“St. Louis embraces a six pillar approach to meeting the needs of our community, and through collaboration with our partners, we’ve developed specific goals for 2012 that include outreach and education; treatment; prevention; housing and employment benefits; and the further development of community partnerships,” explained Joseph.
In 2011, the St. Louis VA homeless program assisted over 1,100 homeless and at-risk veterans, almost tripling the number of veterans served in 2010. Other recent homeless program highlights include:
• Received successful Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accreditation.
• Expanded HUD-VA supported housing programs and received an additional 25 permanent housing vouchers for a total of 120 available housing options for veterans.
• Provided transitional housing programs through partnerships with four community providers. These sites can serve up to 146 veterans.
• Incorporated vocational rehabilitation specialists into programming.
• Provided justice outreach to veteran treatment courts and prisons to further our mission to prevent homelessness and promote recovery.
• Partnered with community providers to launch St. Louis and East St. Louis Homeless Veterans Stand Downs.
• Assisted in the founding of “Stand Up! For Women Veterans,” that hosted two women-specific community resource fairs for female veterans in 2011.
The VA has two upcoming resource fairs for homeless Veterans this spring: a community resource fair “Stand Down” April 28 at Soldiers Memorial downtown and “Stand Up! For Women Veterans” May 12 on the St. Louis University campus.
“These fairs are a wonderful opportunity for veterans to access a wide variety of services in one place. In collaboration with our community providers, we are providing comprehensive services to meet the needs of our veterans. We are working with a number of agencies to provide everything from healthcare to permanent supportive housing options for veterans and their families,” added Joseph.
Keeping the door open
The St. Louis homeless program embraces a “No Wrong Door Approach,” meaning referrals are welcome as walk-ins, consults, appointments or outreach. Joseph and her team are responsible for every veteran in the St. Louis area who is struggling with homelessness, so meeting the veteran on their terms is a must.
“One of the keys to the success of this program is our flexibility. We individualize our services to meet veterans where they are at,” said Joseph.
Joseph also stressed the VA cannot accomplish this mission alone. The entire VA homeless program team appreciates the efforts of everyone who helps veterans find services that are available in the community and through the VA.
If you know a homeless veteran or a veteran that is at-risk for homelessness, please call the VA St. Louis Homeless Veterans Program at (314) 652-4100 ext. 55460. You can also get brochures and other outreach materials at that same number. For more information on VA homeless services, please visit the website or call the National Call Center anytime at (877) 4AID-VET or (877) 424-3838.
VA St. Louis Healthcare System homeless services are provided at:
Hope Recovery Center
515 N. Jefferson Ave.
(Corner of Jefferson and Washington Avenue)
(314) 652-4100 ext. 55460
Hours: Mon-Wed and Fri 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Thursday 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.