Silicon Valley’s ‘All the Way Home’ Campaign Has Housed 1,200-Plus Homeless Veterans

Since launching a campaign in 2015 to end homelessness among veterans, Santa Clara County’s multi-agency All the Way Home campaign has placed 1,237 ex-military men and women in stable housing.

The original goal was to house the South Bay’s entire population of homeless veterans, which amounted to about 700 three years ago—one of the highest rates of veteran homelessness in the nation. Despite the program placing 15 to 36 veterans a month, the region’s persistently exorbitant home prices have led to a significant inflow of newly unsheltered veterans.

As of the latest tally, some 660 unhoused veterans live in this county, according to Destination: Home, the nonprofit leading the campaign along with the county, the local Housing Authority and the city of San Jose. Only this year did the program begin housing veterans at a higher rate than that of veterans entering homelessness.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo joined county Supervisor Dave Cortese and Destination: Home officials on Sunday to unveil the latest progress report in time for Veterans Day and to announce plans to continue the program for another two years.

Source: All the Way Home

All the Way Home—which is led by Maya Esparza, who’s on track to unseat San Jose Councilman Tam Nguyen in District 7—works by matching landlords with veterans who qualify for housing subsidies. Former First Lady Michelle Obama inspired the campaign through her Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness led by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“The success of All The Way Home so far has been a testament to community collaboration,” Esparza told San Jose Inside on Monday. “Now that we've seen a reduction of veterans becoming homeless, we can focus on getting even more veterans housed over the next two years.”

HUD’s rental vouchers have been a critical tool for the All the Way Home campaign, according to the new report. This year, the federal agency allocated an additional 140 vouchers for veterans in the South Bay, in part because of the county’s success with finding landlords to accept them by offering financial incentives.

The monetary benefits  known as “gratitude payments” came under scrutiny in 2017 after the Mercury News reported on an unscrupulous landlord—Peggy DeMaio and her family—cashing in on them by evicting one low-income veteran to house another with a subsidy and a bonus payment through All the Way Home. But the city cracked down on the practice that year by prohibiting owners of rent-controlled apartments from charging market-rate rents to veterans with housing vouchers.

When All the Way Home launched, the county Board of Supervisors authorized an additional $1.5 million in annual housing and services for homeless veterans and upped its commitment to landlord incentives by $1.16 million for the duration of the campaign. The board has since made landlord incentives a permanent resource and increased ongoing funding for supportive housing for homeless veterans by $1.8 million a year.

San Jose’s City Council, for its part, has allocated $4 million to help landlords renovate their properties in exchange for housing homeless veterans. The city is also exploring the idea of allocating another $1 million for a veteran housing subsidy with the county, which is slated to come before the council before the end of the year. Meanwhile, the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara has close to $7.5 million on hand for VA vouchers.

Source: All the Way Home

Local officials this week will also celebrate the grand opening of the Vermont House in San Jose, which will house 16 formerly homeless veterans thanks in part to a $3 million grant from the city to rehabilitate the homes.

According to HUD’s latest Annual Homeless Assessment Report released earlier this month, veteran homelessness fell by just o.3 percent in this county over the past year. It declined by 4.1 percent in San Francisco, 5.3 percent in Marin County, 4.8 percent in San Mateo County and 0.9 percent in Alameda County. Nationwide, it fell by 5.4 percent since 2017; homelessness for female veterans fell by 10 percent in that same timeframe.

“We’re showing that we can make an impact when we set collective goals,” Destination: Home Executive Director Jennifer Loving said in a news release sent to reporters over the weekend. “And while the unfortunate reality is that we will continue to have veterans entering into homelessness, we will achieve our goal of ensuring that veteran homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

5 Comments

  1. > Silicon Valley’s ‘All the Way Home’ Campaign Has Housed 1,200-Plus Homeless Veterans
    . . .
    > But the city cracked down on the practice that year by prohibiting owners of rent-controlled apartments from charging market-rate rents to veterans with housing vouchers.

    So discriminatory and arbitrary in so many different ways. I can’t count them all.

    The Veterans Administration should just do its job and tell all the local political prima donnas to butt out and fix potholes or something.

  2. Interesting. So the program met it’s original goal, but is still being funded. A non-profit would be my guess, because voters love those and they stay perpetually fully/over funded by government with little oversight in most cases.

    The target demographic doubled in size in 3 years, and is still growing… fascinating that they managed to find/manufacture/import additional qualified applicants.

    Yes, it’s expensive here- but that’s true regardless of your veteran/disabled/addiction/migrant status- it’s expensive for homeowners and taxpayers too!

    Like free cell phones, CalFresh and free health care… I’m wondering if taxpayers will ever have enough to give away? I’m super concerned we won’t have an unlimited supply to hand out to everyone who shows up with their hand out.

    Also, does anyone out there know of a place in the USA that’s cheaper than Silicon Valley? Is there a program for people who pay 40% of income in taxes that qualifies them as refugees?

    • “So the program met it’s original goal, but is still being funded”

      “The original goal was to house the South Bay’s entire population of homeless veterans”
      “As of the latest tally, some 660 unhoused veterans live in this county”

      Good times in the comments section, everyone

    • Actually it is not expensive. We housed 3 homeless vets and they contributed over $300 each to their $1500 rent, so in Silicon Valley, at least three vets were housed for $1200 in rent. They also have caseworkers assigned to them and there is the usual HUD overhead and waste, but they are housed in the most expensive place in the US for $1200 rent cost at the most. That’s nothing compared to the porperties the city was developing.

      The city was initially very aggressive in addressing this issue until Miss Shaun and her blowhorn tried to blow it up. We stopped taking new HUD-VASH participants the day after Miss Shaun’s stunt. The homeless can thank Ms. Wadsworth for some of that too, as she actively pushed the narrative too.

  3. It’d be nice to see more Accessory Dwelling Units created as in-fill housing, allowing veterans to enjoy more community integration living in neighborhoods (from Morgan Hill to Palo Alto and withing San Jose from Almaden to Evergreen and Alviso) rather than just in either dense apartment clusters or rehabbed motels and less healthy places. I don’t know all the specifics, but its a worthwhile effort to end homelessness among the veteran community. One harsh reality, however, is that the causes of homelessness aren’t always simple economics and when “unhoused” veterans also self-medicate for untreated mental health issues and/or end up being justice-system involved, just putting them into housing isn’t really helping. Sometimes a comprehensive effort (which the VA works on eagerly with the veteran when they show a willingness to accept help) is needed to manage physical and mental health issues and bring the person up optimal independent living functionality. Untreated stuff like alcoholism and addiction can “un-house” a veteran very quickly, despite all the effort that went in to getting them a deposit and voucher to help pay rent.

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