Yesterday, Paul Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia, became the latest city leader to proclaim support for the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Norfolk joins more than 200 cities across the country in announcing its support for the critical activities providing veterans with access to resources that support economic security. Norfolk has long supported its most vulnerable veteran population; between November 2012 and 2013 alone, more than 400 Norfolk veterans received homelessness support services.
Yesterday’s proclamation coincided with Norfolk’s Project Homeless Connect, for which more than 300 volunteers turned out to provide area homeless with access to community resources, including medical services, employment support, and donated goods. More than 471 homeless clients received help, more than 30 of which were veterans. Norfolk demonstrates its dedication to improving the plight of the homeless by conducting two Project Homeless Connect events each year, whereas many communities host an annual event.
Announced by First Lady Michelle Obama in June 2014 as part of the Joining Forces initiative, the goal of the Mayors Challenge is to end veteran homelessness in communities around the country by the end of 2015. Mayors and other state and local leaders across the country coordinate federal, local, and non-profit efforts to end veteran homelessness in their communities. These efforts do not just work to end current veteran homelessness, but also to provide the right resources to prevent veteran homelessness from occurring, by providing housing, support in obtaining sustained employment, and other resources.
The Joining Forces initiative, led by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, promotes partnership and coordination across all sectors of our country to provide veterans and their families with the economic opportunities and support for well-being they have earned. The initiative has collected public commitments from people and organizations around the country to promote and support veteran employment, education, and wellness.
For more on how to support veterans and their families, visit us at WhiteHouse.gov/JoiningForces.
Kate Higgins-Bloom is a White House Fellow at Joining Forces.