Developing Programs for Homeless Veterans: Understanding Driving Forces of Implementation

John Nakashima, Jim McGuire, Stephen Berman and William Daniels

February 2004

Between 1992 and 2003, services for homeless veterans at the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System went from inappropriate utilization of hospital medical and psychiatric beds, to a continuum of residential treatment, transitional housing, and employment programs through arrangements with private agencies. The authors use elements of Hasenfeld and Brock's Political Economy Model (1991) to explain this transformation in service delivery that was spearheaded by a VA social work leadership team. It is argued that three driving forces crucial to program implementation were present: technological certainty, economic stability, and concentration of power. Evidence of the implementation's impact includes creation of new homeless program beds, a reduction in use of medical/psychiatric beds, and a large number of formerly homeless veterans with housing and employment at program discharge. Study limitations and implications for future studies are discussed.

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