Veteran and Chronic Homelessness

Since 2012, the Institute has helped over sixty U.S. cities and three states launch 100-Day Challenges to accelerate progress toward ending veteran and chronic homelessness.

Our work harnesses the knowledge and skills of front-line staff supporting homeless individuals and brings them together on cross-agency teams. These teams then set out to design new systems that increase efficiency, enhance resource utilization, and make data driven decisions - ultimately with the vision of ending homelessness in the United States.

The challenge

Homelessness is a complex social problem that affects 1.5 million people each year in the United States, including almost 48,000 veterans and representing about 8.5 percent of homeless people and 11 percent of all homeless adults.  Between January 2009 and January 2015, the total number of veterans experiencing homelessness dropped by 35 percent or 25,642 people.

How we tackled it

This work was led nationally in partnership with the 100,000 Homes Campaign, Community Solutions, and Atlas Research, and engaged hundreds of local service providers in communities across the nation.  Our statewide 100-Day effort across Virginia launched in September 2014 and was credited with putting the state on the path to be the first to end veteran homelessness in late 2015.  RRI is also honored to have supported communities across Connecticut during their journey to become the first state to end chronic homelessness. The work was sponsored and funded by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Virginia Department of Veteran Services, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, and supported by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and the National League of Cities.


Project 1:  The 25 Cities Initiative

In March 2014, Rapid Results Institute helped to launch a multi-year, multi-agency effort to help 25 communities across the United States to end Veteran Homelessness by December 2015. The 25 Cities Initiative was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and we were honored to partner with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Community Solutions, Atlas Research, and local community partners in working to meet this ambitious, yet believable goal.

In order to make a significant impact, our federal partners selected 25 Cities across the country with the highest populations of homeless Veterans.  They included Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Riverside, Tucson, Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.  Along with our partners at Community Solutions and Atlas Research, we worked with these cities through September 2016 to accelerate their housing of homeless Veterans and chronically homeless individuals. Our aim was to help each city build, test, and strengthen more coordinated and integrated systems at the local level, which led to a more efficient use of time and resources to reach the goal of ending veteran homelessness.  


The number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the 25 cities decreased by 47% from 2013-2016, compared with a 27% decrease in other nonparticipating cities in the US.   The following factors that make this 20 percentage point gain even more impressive:

  • There were no program funds with the 25 Cities Initiative, just coaching support so cities do more with what they have.

  • While the 25 Cities Initiative was underway (2014-2016), there were other coaching programs in play in at least 50 other cities and lots of spillover effect from the 25 Cities Initiative to these other cities.

  • The 25 cities that were part of the 25 Cities Initiative were not self-selected. Also, they were chosen in part because they were 'magnet cities' that had to contend with the largest inflow of veterans into homelessness.

  • Despite this, there was a 20 percentage point lift over the natural 'control group'!

The 25 Cities Initiative officially launched in March 2014 when leadership teams from each of the 25 Cities convened in Washington, D.C. Over 250 people attended the event to lay the groundwork for local 100-day projects in each of the 25 Cities. In May and June of 2014, teams launched a local Community Design Workshop to design/strengthen their Coordinated Assessment and Housing Placement (CAHP) system, as well as set 100-day goals around building and testing that system. They continued to refine their coordinated systems, learn from each other, continuously make progress of measuring their inflow and outflow, and continue to accelerate progress through effective problem-solving, transparency, urgency, and continuous iteration.

Project 2:  Boot Camps

The Rapid Results Institute and the 100,000 Homes Campaign worked together and organized Rapid Results Housing Bootcamps that brought together cross-agency teams from over 50 cities.  Each team launched a 100-Day Challenge aimed at accelerating local efforts to move chronically homeless veterans into permanent housing. Apart from the Veterans Administration, this work was sponsored by a number of federal agencies including the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness. The work also received funding from the Chase, Starr, and Home Depot Foundations.

Each participating city set out to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for chronically homeless veteran to be housed.


45 community teams improved on average by 124%, meaning the average community more than doubled their housing placement rate in less than 100 days. These results were achieved by making data driven decisions, working differently as a team, and improving the systematic response.

Additional Resources

Rapid Results Acceleration Boot Camp 1: Los Angeles

Rapid Results Veterans Boot Camp #1: Tampa

Rapid Results Acceleration Boot Camp #2: Chicago

Rapid Results Veterans Boot Camp #2: Los Angeles

Project 3:  Virginia

In September 2014, we launched four teams from communities across the State of Virginia in partnership with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and Community Solutions. In 100 days, these four communities housed 462 Veterans and laid the groundwork for collaborative partnerships in their own communities and across the state. Governor Terry McCauliffe later credited this 100-Day statewide effort as the catalyst for putting the state on the path to becoming the first state in the US to officially end Veterans homelessness in November 2015.

Project 4: Connecticut

We partnered with 4 communities in Connecticut (Greater Hartford, New London County, Windham County, Fairfield County) to help them improve the coordinated access networks for homeless services.  The networks bring together Federal, State and local resources with local providers to help them better coordinate their services. Such networks ensure that all families and individuals struggling to find stable housing are paired quickly and efficiently matched to the most appropriate supports within community. The networks also help minimize gaps in service and eliminate duplication of services across providers. This was part of a state-wide effort to end Veteran and Chronic Homelessness by 2016.

Project 5:  North Carolina

In February 2016, we launched six teams from communities across the State of North Carolina in partnership with the Operation Home Task Force.  Those communities included:  Asheville/Buncombe County; Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender Counties; Gaston, Lincoln, and Cleveland Counties; Onslow County; Rowan County; and the Triangle Area (Durham, Wake, and Orange Counties.)  

Operation Home Task Force is a committee of the Governor’s Working Group on Veterans and Their Families and is lead by The North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness (NCCEH).  During the 100 days in these 6 communities, 277 veterans exited homelessness and insights from this work was spread throughout the state.  A report can be found here.