team also allocated project funds
to service providers who supplied the veterans with social
support as well as basic needs,
independent-living skills and
transportation to help them
transition to independent living.
To bring down the costs of furniture procurement, Mr. Groen
negotiated with community
organizations. Bridging Arizona,
a not-for-profit, provides full sets
of furniture for one-bedroom
apartments—including a bed,
dresser, television stand, table
and couch—for just US$95 each.
“People don’t want to see
exorbitant expenses for a proj-
ect like this,” Mr. Groen says.
“You want to show people that
you can accomplish really great
things with not a lot of money.
It’s possible when people are
invested in the project and want
to see you succeed.”
Succeed it did: In December
2013, Project H3 Vets placed
the city’s last chronically homeless veteran in housing—making
Phoenix the first U.S. city to
eradicate veteran homelessness.
Moreover, the project achieved
a 94 percent retention rate,
compared to a national average retention rate of 85 percent,
according to the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.
Housing-first projects are
underway elsewhere in the
United States, including Salt Lake City, Utah and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
as well as France and Japan. With lessons learned from Project H3 Vets, the
U.S. federal government aims to end veteran homelessness nationwide by
2015 and homelessness among families and children by 2020.
“Using the vulnerability index, targeting accordingly and using housing first:
Those have been the big philosophy shifts that have changed the whole game,”
Mr. Groen says. PM
“People don’t want
to see exorbitant
expenses for a
project like this.
You want to show
people that you can
great things with
not a lot of money.”