Challenges and strategies for serving unstably housed veterans in rural areas: evidence from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program
Montgomery, Ann Elizabeth
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Citation (published version)Thomas Byrne, Megan Cusack, Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, Gala True. 2018. "Challenges and Strategies for Serving Unstably Housed Veterans in Rural Areas: Evidence from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program."
INTRODUCTION: Although rural Veterans account for roughly one of seven Veterans experiencing homelessness on a given night, there is limited research about the nature of their housing instability and homelessness. Most research that seeks to understand “what works” for serving Veterans experiencing homelessness has been conducted in urban settings. Based on interviews with Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grantees, this report addresses challenges to serving Veterans in rural areas and proposes strategies and needed resources for overcoming them. METHODS: The SSVF program awards grants from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to community-based agencies to provide homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing services to eligible Veterans and their family members. SSVF offers a range of services including case management, temporary financial assistance, and linkages to VA health care and benefits as well as other mainstream services. In fiscal year 2018, 311 SSVF grantees were active in all 50 states and offered services in almost every county in the country. Roughly 15% of SSVF grantees serve exclusively rural areas and about two-thirds have rural communities in their service catchment area. We conducted qualitative telephone interviews with a stratified random sample of 24 SSVF grantees who serve exclusively rural areas—six providers in each of the four regions of the U.S. (Midwest, Northeast, South, and West). The 24 grantees we interviewed provide services in 17 different states. We sent invitations to contacts at 30 agencies who identified the appropriate staff member(s) to participate in an interview; respondent roles varied (e.g., Program Director, Agency Director, Case Manager, Chief Operations Officer). Interviews, lasting approximately 60 minutes, explored the housing needs, available services, and needed resources to support unstably housed Veterans in rural areas. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and a template analysis approach was used to analyze transcripts.