Large City Examples Leveraging SSVF from Detroit, D.C., and Phoenix

April 28, 2020

Built for Zero recently spoke with leaders from large cities in the Built for Zero Collaborative to hear how they are utilizing new funding and program flexibility for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program.

  • Expand Outreach
    • Using the by-name list to quantify need for additional outreach (individuals who are not currently engaged in services or GPD and proposing hiring additional outreach staff) (Phoenix)
  • Expand EHA 
    • To hotel sites, for physical distancing and to keep the most vulnerable people in congregate settings (D.C.)
    • Re-working available space in GPD locations to develop onsite separate, individual quarantine rooms for veterans who are symptomatic or COVID-positive (Detroit, Phoenix)
    • Planning for 30-day stay in hotel with move-in support to permanent housing, but will extend if additional time needed and will not kick people out without a housing plan (Phoenix)
  • Develop EHA Prioritization and Referrals
    • For EHA, referrals come from the shelters or CoC for individuals in congregate settings who are age 60+ or have underlying health conditions (D.C.)
    • For hotels/motels, based on assessments from SSVF providers (Detroit)
    • EHA referrals from CRRC (Phoenix)
  • Provide EHA-related Transportation
    • Providing Uber/Lyft to transport from congregate settings to hotel sites (D.C.)
  • Enhance Communication/Engagement
    • Buying cheap phones and up to 500 minutes (budgeting $50) and using hotel phones for people who don’t have any communication option (D.C.)
    • CDBG funds to get cheap phones and plans through a contract with T-Mobile (Tempe/Phoenix/Maricopa County)
    • Intake by phone and case management teleconference check-in two-to-three times per week, particularly most vulnerable, to identify symptoms and connect to a healthcare provider since there is no onsite staff at hotels right now (D.C.)
    • Providing phones, as needed, checking in on people by phone, particularly the most vulnerable and doing assessments for newly homeless by phone (Detroit)
  • Provide Additional Supports for Social Isolation/Quarantine
    • Buying groceries for pick up or delivery (D.C., Detroit)
  • Adapt Documentation Mechanisms
    • Virtual/electronic submission of forms (fillable pdfs) and verbal confirmations if there are technology limitations (D.C.)
  • Increase Permanent Housing Placements
    • More Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) for security deposits and move-in (Phoenix)
    • Proposal to hire 2 additional navigators (1:25 ratio) to house more veterans (Phoenix)
    • Providing financial assistance as bridge to HUD-VASH to move veterans into housing since PHS is not currently doing briefings (Detroit)
      • Only working with known landlords that will pass PHA inspection
      • Communicating with landlords about the initial lease-up and transition to HUD-VASH voucher/lease
      • HUD-VASH team providing case management to support work with SSVF
      • Documented policy and process
    • Added 1 additional staff person for case management at an existing SSVF provider (Detroit)
    • Developing more housing plans and finding increasing interest from veterans to have a place of their own (Detroit)
  • Prevent Eviction
    • Projecting needs for lift of eviction moratorium, and planning to utilize funds for arrears to prevent homelessness due to eviction (Detroit)
  • Explore New Workforce Development Options
    • Planning to rent space/computers for lab (Phoenix)
    • Discussing pass-through dollars to workforce development agencies (Phoenix)
  • Enhancing coordination efforts and using by-name list at meetings to understand needs and response (D.C., Phoenix)
    • Coordinated Entry meetings to go through by-name list to understand who is in shelter/congregate settings and to offer EHA as appropriate (D.C.)
    • Actively participating in veterans work group to review each veteran — this shaped the proposal for more outreach workers (Phoenix)
    • Veteran leadership meets every other week and continuing Case Conferencing meetings to provide most up-to-date information in this rapidly changing environment (Detroit)
    • Coordinated Entry Specialist acts as hub between VA programs (e.g. SSVF, HUD-VASH, GPD, etc) (Detroit)
    • Partnered with City and GPD provider to talk about testing options for folks in congregate settings who are humanitarian only  (Detroit)
    • Connecting with SSVF Coordinator to talk through ideas and seek approval (Phoenix)
    • Increased communication with Public Housing Authority (Phoenix)
  • Referrals from VA hospital and CRRC:  
    • From discharge planning VA hospital social workers and CRRC VA Outreach workers (D.C.)
      • If someone is COVID-positive, they connect to DHS and, if no longer symptomatic, get reconnected to SSVF about hotels/placement.  (D.C.)
    • VA helps inform of who is high risk and in need of services and that is who goes into the EHA hotels, referrals from CRRC  (Phoenix)
    • VA is providing COVID testing for VHA eligible veterans (Detroit)


  • Reaching the chronic refusers during this time (a few people have refused EHA assistance). This perpetual challenge is more urgent now. (D.C.)
  • Being able to let go of plans they had before guidance was rolled out/ever-shifting landscape. (Detroit)
  • Working remotely; they’ve been creative but it’s an adjustment to help people without being there. (Detroit)
  • Need HMIS program to aid in tracking work that’s been done. (Phoenix)
  • Organization across agencies/programs. (Detroit)
  • Programs getting different messages from their national office, which creates confusion on the ground. (Detroit)


  • Getting approval on ideas. (Phoenix)
  • Hiring long-term employees not knowing if we’ll be able to keep them on when we’re no longer receiving this type of funding. (Phoenix)

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