Skip to Content

The City of Norman is First in the State to Effectively End Veteran Homelessness

Norman Mayor Lynne Miller announced on February 27, 2018 that the City of Norman and Cleveland County have effectively ended veteran homelessness, recently confirmed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Watch the video of the announcement. (19:23)

Norman/Cleveland County Continuum of Care (CoC) becomes the 62nd community nationwide (59 cities and three states), and the first in Oklahoma to achieve this certification from USICH indicating that Norman has sufficient resources to provide housing to every homeless veteran in the City of Norman and Cleveland County.  In addition, the City of Norman is the seventh community in the nation to have reached all federal criteria benchmarks, and simultaneously, Built for Zero benchmarks. 

Mayor Miller led the announcement today of the success of this initiative, which began almost three years ago when the city joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. The Department of Planning and Community Development worked with more than 30 area agencies and advocates across the county to ensure a coordinated system with sufficient resources to provide housing to every veteran that is homeless in Cleveland County. 

“So many caring and dedicated people have worked in our community to make sure our veterans have assistance with housing.  It is because of this relentless community-wide effort that we have reached such a significant and immeasurably impactful goal,” said Mayor Miller.

The CoC has also received continual guidance and support from Community Solutions since 2015, specifically, the Built For Zero national change effort working to help committed communities end veteran and chronic homelessness. Built For Zero initiative’s rigorous standard for achieving functional zero is, “At any point in time, the number of veterans experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness will be no greater than the current monthly housing placement rate for veterans experiencing homelessness.” This does not mean there are no veterans sleeping outside, unsheltered in Norman but it does signify 45 and counting, homeless veterans have been placed in permanent housing since January 2015, when communities across the country pledged to work on solving homelessness for veterans. 
“This is a story of heroic collaboration,” said Beth Sandor, director of Built for Zero at Community Solutions. “Ending veteran homelessness in Norman has required people from many sectors and agencies working together toward a shared aim. The best part of the collaborative infrastructure they have built is reusable as the community continues on to end homelessness among other groups, like families and youth.”

"Congratulations to Mayor Miller and all the partners who have worked tirelessly to ensure that Veterans have a safe and stable place to call home in Norman and throughout Cleveland County,” said Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Today, Norman/Cleveland County adds to our proof that ending homelessness is possible in communities across the nation, and not just for veterans, but for everyone.”

The federal benchmarks are outlined as meeting the following criteria; Chronic and long-term homelessness among veterans has been ended by the verification of functional zero status. Veterans have quick access to permanent housing. The community has sufficient permanent housing capacity. The number of veterans exiting homelessness and moving into permanent housing is greater than or equal to the number of veterans entering homelessness. The community is committed to Housing First and provides service-intensive transitional housing to veterans experiencing homelessness only in limited instances. 
“We are very pleased with the commitment of the mayor, city officials, and community agencies teaming with the Oklahoma City VA Healthcare Homeless Program in helping us continue the mission of ending veteran homelessness.  Our efforts and programs making a difference in the lives of the veterans and their families is what we strive for every day and we could not do it alone,” said Matthew Fox, Acting Assistant Director of the Veterans Administration, Oklahoma City office. 

“We applaud the City of Norman on reaching this important goal,” said Oklahoma City Field Office Director Sharon Gordon-Ribeiro.   “Norman now joins a select list of cities that have achieved what every city in the county aims for—to make sure our veterans are housed."

In the midst of achieving this initiative, Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) and Veteran Administration partners were vital to achieving the benchmarks by bringing their resources and ingenuity each week to our local Coordinated Case Management meetings. “Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma SSVF is honored to enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and disadvantages through the power of work by providing rapid rehousing services in conjunction with the City of Norman, the local Veterans Administration Medical Center, and local community agencies to provide a complete system of care to meet the needs of all veterans who struggle with homelessness in CoC 504,” said Donnie Lewis, Program Manager for SSVF, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma. 

The community will continue to sustain functional zero for veterans and shift toward ending street/chronic homelessness with an increased emphasis on youth and family.