VA Hospital Partnership for Homeless Veterans Center

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2009) – Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital was selected as one of the host sites to establish the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans. In partnership with the University of South Florida’s Florida Mental Health Institute, the Center on Homelessness is designed to serve as a national resource for both VA and community partners, in improving the quality and timeliness of services delivered to veterans and their dependents who are homeless or those individuals at-risk of homelessness.


These efforts are supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Office of Mental Health Services in Washington, DC and are operated in conjunction with the Center on Homelessness’s administrative and research site at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center along with the University of Pennsylvania. Tampa’s community partners and USF will establish research studies, pilot new housing models, and develop national training for VA and non-VA staff operating programs around the country that assist homeless veterans. 


The primary goal of the Center on Homelessness is to develop, promote, and enhance policy, clinical care research, and education to improve homeless services so that veterans may live as independently and self-sufficiently as possible in a community of their choosing.


Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary, Eric K. Shinseki first announced the establishment of the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans at the annual conference of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans in Washington, DC on May 20, 2009. In his announcement, he stated President Obama has made it clear that homelessness among veterans is unacceptable and we have a moral duty to prevent and eliminate this condition among veterans. The VA has developed a national integrated network of homeless services including transitional programs, permanent housing, and residential treatment.  However, on any given night, it is estimated that there are 130,000 veterans that are homeless and more than twice that number experience an episode of homelessness during a year. 


Since Secretary Shinseki’s announcement, Haley VA has already provided major support to initiate one of the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans’ primary research projects with the University of South Florida. The two-year study will examine VA’s homeless programs in Florida and Pennsylvania and determine which program models are best to assist homeless veterans with successful community re-integration.  Colleen Clark, research assistant professor, USF, Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Mental Health Law and Policy (MHLP), and associate director of research for the center, will be principal investigator of the study. 


“We are marshalling a wealth of experience and skill to help us move from a comprehensive understanding of the overall problem to practical measures that will help us come as close as possible to ending homelessness among veterans,” said Clark, who developed the study methods and design.  It is expected that additional studies and pilot programs will be developed through consultation and coordination with USF's newly established College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, led by Dean Junius Gonzales.


Tampa VA Hospital Director Stephen Lucas comments that “we at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa look forward to working in partnership with USF and the Florida Mental Health Institute. The pairing of the VA’s own Dr. Roger Casey, director of the Homeless Providers Program and FMHI’s Dr. Colleen Clark are truly exceptional resources. They are both recognized as leaders in their fields, combining the efforts of these two organizations, we hope to develop the best methods to attack the problem of homeless veterans once and for all.”


The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.