The Virgin Islands Interagency Council on Homelessness chaired by Virgin Islands Commissioner of Human Services Chris Finch in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Continuum of Care on Homelessness chaired by St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt took further steps earlier this week to end chronic homelessness in the Territory by conducting a technical assistance training session with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Martha Are, the Homeless Policy Specialist for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services with an extended history of administering projects toward eradicating homelessness, spearheading state advocacy groups, and assisting a number of communities throughout North Carolina with a 10 year plan. Ms. Are provided a focused approach to improving the Territory’s 10 year plan to eliminate homelessness by recognizing resources and developing practical steps toward resolution. Successful initiatives of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness were also referenced to determine if similar processes could be adopted in the Territory.

Several options were considered for amending the Territory’s strategic plan on homelessness. One particular proposal would have the Virgin Islands Interagency Council collaborating with the local government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations to collectively solicit legislative support by supplying cost benefit information for keeping persons housed for at least a year. Another involved developing a streamlined process for moving homeless persons through a system of rehabilitation and permanent housing with support services including specified treatment. Creating housing stock and targeting the most visible homeless to engage in a street to home initiative which empowers them to choose housing were considered; and endorsements from the private sector and heightened involvement of stakeholders to intervene and break the homeless cycle were also discussed.

“We are making inroads into identifying the ‘opportunities for solution’ with respect to homelessness in the Virgin Islands and which solutions provide the Territory’s taxpayers with the greatest impact in addressing those opportunities,” said Tom Bolt, Chair of the Territory’s Continuum of Care.