Tuesday, October 11, 2011

VA Launching Nationwide Homeless Outreach and Media Plan

From the VA:
VA Launching Nationwide Homeless Outreach and Media Plan
Seeks involvement of community partners


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will launch a nationwide media and awareness plan, directly supporting Secretary Shinseki’s intent to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, in 28 select U.S. cities and rural communities. 
A coordinated federal, state and local community effort is key to the launch as well as continuing efforts to dramatically increase awareness of supportive services available to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness and their families. As a result, a critical component of this outreach strategy involves leveraging VA’s relationship with community partners to engage or re-engage veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with VA services through increased awareness and outreach.

Through those valued partnerships, VA will recruit those who routinely encounter homeless veterans and at-risk veterans to serve as the initiative’s messengers while also developing locations where homeless and at-risk veterans congregate as direct communication channels.  For homeless veterans, this includes locations such as: Veteran Service-, Non-Government- and Faith-Based-Organizations; soup kitchens; homeless shelters; libraries; and emergency rooms. Among those singled out for message delivery will be local community program and service providers along with first responders. 
In support of this strategy, VA will work collaboratively with communities to direct these outreach partners and veterans to three primary channels for help: 
1) the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838), 
2) VA’s Homeless Veterans website at www.va.gov/homeless, and 
3) local VA medical centers.

Targeted outreach will occur at the 28 locations (21 urban and seven rural) listed below. These sites were identified by U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), in the Annual Homeless Assessment Report, and by VA staff as key areas for increasing awareness.

Urban Areas
Atlanta, GA 
Harrisburg, PA
New York, NY
Boston, MA
Houston, TX
Phoenix, AZ
Chicago, IL
Las Vegas, NV
San Diego, CA 
Cleveland, OH              
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco, CA
Dallas, TX
Memphis, TN
Seattle, WA
Denver, CO
Miami, FL
St. Louis, MO
Detroit, MI
New Orleans, LA
Washington, D.C.
Rural Areas 
Anchorage, AK 
Canandaigua, NY
 Ft. Harrison, MT 
Fayetteville, NC
 Kauai, HI 
Oahu, HI 
Sioux Falls, SD

In addition to targeted outreach, VA’s ongoing outreach will consist of meetings with community stakeholders throughout the year. VA will continue street outreach in areas frequented by homeless veterans and will air Public Service Announcements (PSAs) throughout the year on radio and TV. VA aims to further its efforts through continued outreach across the United States, including rural outreach and solidifying relationships with community partners.
As an attachment to this email (scroll to the bottom), please find a list of events, outreach materials, and an updated fact sheet regarding VA’s homeless programs.

The second phase of the initiative involves the development and distribution of PSAs to 3,000 radio stations, 1,200 broadcast TV stations, and 500 cable outlets. In addition, a paid media strategy will be undertaken to purchase outdoor and print advertising in areas with the highest concentration of veterans who are homeless. Outdoor advertising (posters, bus wraps, billboards, bus wraps, and taxi shelters) will be primarily used as they are likely the strongest vehicles for reaching veterans who are homeless, since many do not have access to other forms of advertising. To reach first responders, mental health providers, and social workers who have direct contact with struggling or homeless veterans, targeted ads will be developed for these audiences and placed in niche magazines, newspapers and other periodicals. Attached is a sampling of materials (posters and brochures) that will be distributed as part of this initiative.

Your organization is an important resource to achieve the Plan’s objective. The Department of Veterans Affairs values your partnership and appreciates your strong support and continuing efforts as we continue striving towards the goal of preventing and eliminating veteran homelessness by 2015.

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