The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s Rapid Housing for Veterans program as part of the 100 programs named as semifinalists in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition. DCHA will compete to be named a Finalist in the competition and have the chance to be awarded the $100,000 grand prize in Cambridge this spring.
The Rapid Housing for Veterans program advanced from a pool of more than 500 applications from all 50 states, and was selected by the Innovations Award evaluators as examples of novel and effective action whose work has had significant impact, and who they believe can be replicated across the country and the world.
“DCHA is honored to be among the 100 semifinalists of the Innovations in American Governments Awards for our work in housing veterans,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman. “Our Rapid Housing for Veterans program is a national model of how to efficiently work between agencies to house homeless veterans.”
DCHA Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Terri Thompson said, “This housing program is an example of DCHA working collaboratively to solve the problem of veteran homelessness and improve the services and systems to support our veterans.”
In an effort to house veterans receiving a Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher, DCHA streamlined the process. Working with D.C.’s Veterans Affairs and Department of Human Services, DCHA identifies vacant units, inspects, and approves them. The units are move-in ready for when a veteran is referred to DCHA. DCHA also holds trainings for DHS and VA employees so they can better assist veterans trying to navigate the housing process. The agency also holds regular Meet and Lease events where veterans can see available pre-inspected units.
“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, “small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”
The Semifinalist programs represent a cross-section of jurisdictions and policy areas, and embody one of the most diverse and sophisticated groups that have advanced to this stage in the competition’s 30-year history. They were invited to complete a supplementary application last fall, answering in-depth questions about their work, the process of creating and sustaining their programs, and how they believe they can teach others to do what they do. The Ash Center expects to announce 10 programs that will be named Finalists and be invited to Cambridge to present to the Innovation Awards Program’s National Selection Committee in March, with the grand prize winners to be named in June.
Please visit the Government Innovators Network at http://innovations.harvard.edu for the full list of Semifinalists, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.