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Your feedback helps VA provide services for homeless Veterans

While significant progress has been made to prevent and end Veteran homelessness, recent data released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) showed that on a single night in January 2023, there were 35,574 Veterans who experienced homelessness. That figure represents a 7.4% increase in Veteran homelessness since 2022. And although there is still an overall decline in Veteran homelessness—52% since 2010—our work is far from over.

Fortunately, we know what works. Veteran homelessness is solvable, and we have the right tools for the job. But how does VA know what tools are needed to solve Veteran homelessness and when those needs change?

That’s where Project CHALENG comes in.

CHALENGing us to do better

VA’s “Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups” for Veterans, commonly referred to as Project CHALENG, was launched in 1993 with the mission of bringing together providers, advocates, Veterans and other concerned citizens to identify the needs of homeless Veterans and work to meet those needs through planning and cooperative action.

Part of Project CHALENG is the CHALENG survey, where participants rate the needs of homeless Veterans in their local communities. The results of the CHALENG survey are used each year to identify unmet needs and encourage new partnership development to meet those needs.

Read our fact sheet and view the results of the 2022 survey.

Annual feedback leads to new programs and services

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Project CHALENG. Over the last three decades, CHALENG has helped build thousands of relationships between VA and community agencies in order to better serve homeless Veterans on a local level.

The needs that have been uncovered by Project CHALENG have changed over time. In the early years, the top unmet needs focused on emergency, transitional and permanent housing. In more recent years the top unmet needs focus on legal service assistance and discharge upgrades.

Data from CHALENG on Veterans’ unmet needs has assisted VA in developing new services for Veterans.

Some examples of resources that were developed in response to CHALENG survey feedback include:

Expansion of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program, which combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by VA.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families, which provides homeless prevention and rapid rehousing services.

Veterans Justice Programs, including new Legal Services for Veterans Programs, which increase access to legal services to eligible Veterans through the award of grant funds and by promoting medical legal partnerships and VA-affiliated legal clinics.

Community organizations use CHALENG data in grant applications to support services for homeless Veterans. Grant applications are for VA, other federal and local government, and foundation dollars, which maximizes community participation in serving homeless Veterans.

Amplifying the voices of Veterans

In recent years, VA has added a Veteran-specific survey to engage Veterans in defining their own needs. Veterans and service providers are usually aligned in identifying the top unmet needs. However, one item identified by service providers that Veterans tend to omit is a need for child care.

Beginning in 2019, CHALENG added a qualitative question asking Veterans to identify the single most important resource to end or prevent their homelessness. These qualitative responses uncovered additional needs not captured in quantitative questions, such as requests for guidance and mentorship, including from other Veterans serving as peers.

Take the CHALENG Survey

If you are a Veteran currently or formerly homeless, a VA or another federal agency employee, a member of state or local government, a community-based homelessness assistance provider or just an invested member of the community, we invite you to take the 2024 CHALENG survey online.

It takes only six minutes.

Take the 2024 Project CHALENG Survey.

Learn about VA programs

If you are a Veteran who is homeless or at risk for homelessness, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).

Visit the VA Homeless Programs website to learn about housing initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.

Check out the Ending Veteran Homelessness podcast to learn more about what VA is doing about Veteran homelessness.

Learn how to get involved with housing homeless Veterans.

For more stories like these, subscribe to the Homeless Programs Office newsletter to receive monthly updates.

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