Empowered By Orange County United Way

Myth #7: It’s Not Possible to End Veteran Homelessness

Author: Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, AD-74

Every year, Orange County conducts the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count. It’s a process where organizations and volunteers team up to ensure the homeless in our county are counted – allowing for a better understanding of how resources and federal funding can be utilized.

This year, the PIT returned with one particularly sobering statistic: 311 veterans are currently experiencing homelessness in our region.

I strongly believe that no veteran should be without a roof over their head.  They have given so much to serve and protect our nation, and we need to ensure that they have access to permanent homes and supportive services.

United to End Homelessness’s Welcome Home OC program and the Marching Home initiative led by the County of Orange, are vital to this goal.

Across the country, 78 communities and three states have taken significant strides in addressing homelessness among veterans, with more communities coming closer to achieving their goals of ending homelessness daily. When we look at what each of these communities have done to meet their objectives, there are broad factors in common:

  • They were not passive about the issue
  • They were motivated to act
  • They made an active choice to create a system where no veteran would be left without a home

I believe Orange County can join these communities in achieving similar goals. Through new initiatives like Marching Home, our community has set a goal of helping to house individuals like those 311 homeless veterans by December 2020.

A key part of this initiative is United to End Homelessness’s landlord incentive program Welcome Home OC, where veterans with housing vouchers are connected to property owners who have available units. It is a program I strongly believe in – working in conjunction with United Way, I secured $2.9 million in this year’s state budget to support the program.

These innovative, collaborative and ground-breaking efforts make me confident that together, we can and will end homelessness in Orange County.