The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) is the only nationally-based organization solely focused on finding effective solutions for ending veteran homelessness and plays the role of convener and advocate for member organizations. Our membership consists of a variety of organizations, from large multi-state agencies all the way down to smaller community-based providers.
One of the key functions of NCHV is to help service organizations understand how best to implement evidence-based practices, advocate for necessary investment in programs, and garner local will and leadership to address the veteran homelessness. Throughout our 30+ years history, NCHV has been involved with the creation of, and improvements to, every federally authorized program to end veteran homelessness since our inception.
Over the course of the last decade, veteran homelessness has decreased by nearly 50% in large part due to the work our coalition and what their local partners have done in collaboration with the resources and support NCHV has advocated for. This success would not have been possible without consistent feedback from both our members and homeless veterans themselves.
In 2009, when President Obama announced his initiative to end veteran homelessness, NCHV knew it had to institute a feedback program to ensure successful collaboration for this monumental goal. Our Annual National Conference is the largest training and convening for service providers on how to improve systems of care and has ensured that communities continue to make progress in reducing veteran homelessness.
However, meeting just once per year to gather feedback from our members and service providers was not enough. NCHV needed to expand the opportunities for our constituents to give feedback to accommodate their schedules in either delivering or receiving services. For service providers, NCHV began gathering feedback through surveys, regular conference calls, virtual convenings, and other topic-based meetings. The information gained through these various methods has shaped our advocacy efforts to either increase resources or improve programs.
Additionally, NCHV has also sought input through the use of surveys and focus groups with key constituencies such as homeless veterans, landlords, and member organizations. The data compiled from these focus groups has been used to develop guides on best practices, released as reports, or highlighted through various media technologies. These conversations have helped identify programmatic or regulatory hurdles that have hindered the work of service providers or been barriers homeless veterans have had to overcome to become stably housed and have led to the development of workable solutions that address these issues.
Our ability to successfully solicit feedback through a multipronged approach has been instrumental in gathering information for all our various constituents and uplifting the voices of a particularly vulnerable population -- homeless veterans. All the feedback NCHV has received has improved our ability to:
- Improve collaboration at the local, state, and national levels;
- Shape federal policy through Congressional legislation and federal regulatory changes;
- Build service provider capacity;
- Learn about the demand for additional training opportunities;
- Advocate for additional resources; and
- Hold key stakeholders accountable for making progress on ending veteran homelessness.
At NCHV, we believe it is vital to not just collect feedback but ensure that it is used to close the loop. The data and information we receive is used to create systemic change that improves the lives of veterans. Creating a feedback program with multiple opportunities for constituents to provide their insight is a valuable process for every nonprofit organization to embark on because it builds up loyalty and trust, and it demonstrates that you care about the needs of the community you serve.
Written by Kathryn Monet, Chief Executive Officer, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV).