In an effort to help homeless veterans reintegrate into their communities, Homeless Court Programs (HCPs) around the country utilize existing self-development programs that can be recognized as sentencing alternatives for homeless veterans with legal barriers to independent living. HCPs combine a progressive plea bargain system, alternative sentencing structure, assurance of “no custody,” and proof of program activities to address a full range of misdemeanor offenses. Established HCPs are a testament to the power of collaboration with community-based organizations that provide supportive services to homeless veterans. Understanding the process of HCP development allows additional community organizations to leverage existing relationships to develop this important program to serve homeless veterans with legal barriers to employment and housing.
On Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, at 3 p.m. EST, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) hosted the teleconference “Developing a Homeless Court in Your Community” to discuss the creation and expansion of HCPs to serve homeless veterans. Co-sponsored by the American Bar Association's Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, this teleconference featured Steve Binder, who founded the nation’s first Homeless Court in 1989 and currently serves as Special Advisor on the Commission. Binder provided a step-by-step strategy for implementation and related his own experiences with the program, explaining how it has affected his community.