About AmeriCorps VISTA
 
Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) began in 1965. In 1993, the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) was established to connect millions of Americans with opportunities to serve their communities and nation. CNCS was also established as the umbrella organization for AmeriCorps, incorporating the long-standing VISTA program, and other national service programs.

  
[fun fact] The VISTA documentary “A Year Towards Tomorrow” won the 1967 Academy Award for best documentary short subject!


    
About VHA's VISTA Project
  

The Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA) is expanding affordable housing opportunities and ending homelessness throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia through advocacy, education, and collaboration. VHA Facebook & Twitter.

The VHA AmeriCorps VISTA Project provides the human capital necessary to support the transition to a sustainable and more effective homeless response system, while engaging VISTA members in the causes of and solutions to homelessness.

VHA VISTA members are placed in communities across the state and will help VHA's local partners achieve greater impact for their clients experiencing and at risk of homelessness.

   

[Homeless Services] VHA VISTA members will provide critical support and leadership to local organizations through:

1. Promoting permanent housing focused solutions to end homelessness.
(Permanent supportive housing; Rapid re-housing)
Programs will focus on moving clients quickly from homelessness to permanent housing of their own.
Resources will be directed to evidence based interventions such as permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.

2. Improving data quality and use in decision-making.
(Point-in-Time Count; Homeless Management Information System)
Response systems will have improved data collection systems and data quality.
Leaders will have tools to assist in analyzing data.
Communities will use data to access and improve program quality and allocate resources.

3. Building strategic partnerships that advance efforts to end homelessness.
Partnerships with the systems and resources that are critical to stabilizing people in housing will be in place, including:
-  Mainstream employment resources and programs;
-  Hospitals, mental health providers, and other mainstream healthcare systems; and
-  Federal, state, and nonprofit organizations that serve veterans.

4. Engage in special initiatives to end veteran, chronic, youth and family homelessness.
Communities will have in place best practice by-name master lists for all populations of homeless.
The by-name lists will be updated through regular case conference meetings.
Annual point-in-time count questions will be best suited to gathering veteran, chronic, youth and family data.

  
VHA VISTA members are serving on-site at Virginia Continuum of Care (CoC) lead agencies, local service providers, and statewide at VHA.

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. HUD introduced the CoC concept in 1995.
  
The CoC lead has three primary responsibilities: to operate the CoC, to designate a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) for the CoC, and to plan for the CoC.
  
The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009:
-  Consolidates three of the separate homeless assistance programs administered by HUD under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act into a single grant program;
-  Supportive Housing program (SHP)
-  Shelter Plus Care (S+C)
-  Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy (SRO)
-  Revises the Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) program and renames it the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program; and
-  Codifies into law the Continuum of Care (CoC) planning process, a longstanding part of HUD’s application process to assist homeless persons by providing greater coordination in responding to their needs.


[Affordable Housing] VHA VISTA members will provide critical support and leadership to local organizations through:

1. Develop resources to increase development capacity and enhance organization stability.
2. Enhance community engagement in Affordable Housing efforts.
3. Improve data quality and use in decision making.
4. Promote Best Practices in affordable housing development.

The first VHA VISTA members began their service terms in March 2014 through the former Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness!