The ND Planning Committee to End Veteran Homelessness lead by ND Veterans Commissioner Lonnie Wangen met for the first time at 2PM on Thursday May 21, 2020. The meeting which was planned for March 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “We were really looking forward to an in-person meeting for a chance to visit with all the members. Instead a Zoom meeting was held which was very productive” said Commissioner Wangen.
The meeting agenda covered ND Veteran Homelessness Statistics, Coordinated Entry Process, Continuum of Care and the definition and benchmarks to reach “Functional Zero” as defined by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) the group charged with developing and regularly updating a national strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
North Dakota Veteran Homeless Statistics show that on an average day 49 ND veterans are experiencing homelessness. “Functional Zero” does not mean there are no homeless veterans in ND. There will always be veterans who experience a housing crisis or become homeless. But, as long as we have a good crisis response system (Coordinated Entry) in place that can rapidly identify those in need and re-house them quickly, the homeless rate will “functionally” be at zero.
A Coordinated Entry process is comprised of Access to the homeless response system; a uniform Assessment tool to identify appropriate housing and services; and Assignment/Prioritization based on each individuals case. A Continuum of Care is a group composed of representatives of relevant organizations that work together to plan, organize and provide the streamlined crisis response system.
The committee’s mutual goal is to achieve and sustain a well-coordinated, and efficient community system that ensures veteran homelessness is rare, brief & non-recurring and that no Veteran is forced to live on the street. The committee is comprised of 21 members representing 12 organizations. Committee members are; Lonnie Wangen-Commissioner ND Department of Veterans Affairs; Diana Hall homeless programs supervisor and Samantha Navratil-Coordinated Entry specialist Fargo VA Health Care System; Andrea Olson-Executive Director and Pam Palmer Statewide Program Director SSVF ND Community Action Partnership and ND Coalition for Homeless Persons; Jan Eliassen-ND Community Shelter Directors; Shawnel Willer-Coordinator ND Continuum of Care; Mary Vetter-President ND Association of County and Tribal Veteran Service Officers; Nicole Berman-ND Human Services; Jill Elliot Deputy Director (Fargo) and Mark Austin (Minot) ND Housing Authority Directors; Senator Kyle Davison-Chair of Senate Government and Veterans Affairs (GVA) Committee; Senator Judy Lee-Chair of Senate Human Services Committee; Senator Dick Dever Appropriations lead for NDDVA, Veterans Home and Human Services bugdet, Veterans Legislative Caucus Chair, past Chair of Senate GVA and Human Services Committee member; Representative Jim Kasper-Chair of House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee; Representative Robin Weisz-Chair of House Human Services Committee; Col Warren Pauling-ND National Guard; General Al Palmer (retired)-Grand Forks area Veteran, Katy Miller-United States Interagency Counsel on Homelessness.
The Committee’s goal is to reach “Functional Zero” in the next year. To do this the committee will put the plan into action and establish a Coalition of over 100 members which will be charged with reaching the goal and maintaining “Functional Zero” veteran homelessness in North Dakota.