Thank you for focusing on the very important issue of homelessness on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, particularly the important milestone of meeting the benchmarks set by the federal government to demonstrate that a system has the resources, coordination, community support and political will to ensure that homeless veterans have a path to housing.
The participation of Mayors Gilich and Hewes in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness was an important step in defining the community's commitment. By participating in the challenge and coordinating efforts to prioritize the veterans most in need and provide supportive services, the Biloxi VA, community nonprofits from the Coast and other Mississippi organizations created the foundation for finding peace and stability in housing for more than 244 veterans and heroes.
You asked if the mission was accomplished. It depends on how the mission is defined. We know that we will never avoid every housing crisis. We know that there will be veterans who enter homelessness. The mission was to create a collaborative system that uses the Housing First approach, an approach that prioritizes those with the highest needs, provides opportunities for affordable housing and ensures supportive services are available to assure stability and community integration.
That mission has been achieved through the hard work of many people in our community, in the state and across the country. Through this system, our hope is that no veteran will be homeless again. However, if someone becomes homeless or is currently homeless, we are ready, willing and able to assist.