CHALENG, which is an acronym for Community Homelessness, Local Education, and Networking Groups, is a national initiative for homeless veterans. VA regional office directors and medical centers collaborate with state, federal, non-profit organizations and local agencies to evaluate the necessities of homeless veterans, come up with workable plans to meet those needs and develop local community references which can be accessed by homeless veterans.
The project is guided by the principle that no single institution on its own can cover the full scope of aiding homeless veterans in becoming useful members of the society. Up to 10,000 non-VA representatives from these institutions have taken part in the initiative in activities which include:
- Homeless veterans need awareness conferences held at VA medical centers.
- Fight against veteran homelessness by creating new partnerships.
- Strategy development for a future course of action.
The regional office directors and local medical centers are to meet specific legislative requirements for them to participate in project CHALENG:
- They should evaluate the needs of the homeless veterans dwelling in their area.
- The evaluation exercise should be carried out together with state and local government representatives, NGO community organizations serving homeless populations and suitable federal agencies and departments.
- They should primarily focus on the health, education, employment, shelter, outreach, counseling and training needs of the homeless veterans while doing the evaluations.
- They should evaluate the extent to which their veterans’ necessities are being met.
- Formulate a reference for homeless services in the area.
- Encourage coordinated service development
- Act in meeting the homeless veteran’s needs
- Enlighten the homeless veterans on resources, other than VA, available in the community that can help them in meeting their needs.
VA regional offices and medical centers at the local level appoint Points of Contact for the initiatives who oversee the above requirements. These POCs who are usually local VA project coordinators or homeless centers collaborate with local agencies through the whole year to ensure homeless veterans receive the needed services.