The Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs departments and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness today announced that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010.
White House officials said data shows a 17 percent decrease in veteran homelessness between January 2015 and January 2016 — quadruple the previous year’s annual decline — and a 47 percent decrease since 2010.
Through HUD’s annual Point-in-Time estimate of America’s homeless population, communities across the country reported that fewer than 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness on a given night in January 2016, officials said. The January 2016 estimate found slightly more than 13,000 unsheltered homeless veterans living on their streets, a 56 percent decrease since 2010.
Partnerships produced results
This progress is a result of partnerships among HUD, VA, USICH, and other federal, state and local partners. These partnerships were sparked by the 2010 launch of Opening Doors, the first strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, officials said. The initiative’s success among veterans can also be attributed to the effectiveness of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program, which combines HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA, they added. Since 2008, more than 85,000 vouchers have been awarded and more than 114,000 homeless veterans have been served through the HUD-VASH program.
“We have an absolute duty to ensure those who’ve worn our nation’s uniform have a place to call home,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro said. “While we’ve made remarkable progress toward ending veteran homelessness, we still have work to do to make certain we answer the call of our veterans, just as they answered the call of our nation.”
“The dramatic decline in veteran homelessness reflects the power of partnerships in solving complex national problems on behalf of those who have served our nation,” VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald said. “The men and women who have fought for this nation should not have to fight to keep a roof over their head, and I’m pleased that VA is serving more veterans than ever before with heath care, education, job training and wraparound supportive services. While this is very real progress that means tens of thousands more veterans have a place to call home, we will not rest until every veteran in need is permanently housed.”
“Together, we are proving that it is possible to solve one of the most complex challenges our country faces,” said Matthew Doherty, the executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “This progress should give us confidence that when we find new ways to work together and when we set bold goals and hold ourselves accountable, nothing is unsolvable.”
In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness with the goal of accelerating progress toward the national goal of ending veteran homelessness. More than 880 mayors, governors, and other local officials have joined the challenge and committed to ending veteran homelessness in their communities, White House officials said. To date, 27 communities and two states have effectively ended veteran homelessness, serving as models for others across the nation, they added.
HUD and VA have a wide range of programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including health care, housing solutions, job training and education. In fiscal year 2015, these programs helped more than 157,000 people — including 99,000 veterans and 34,000 children — secure or remain in permanent housing, officials said. Since 2010, more than 360,000 veterans and their families have been permanently housed, rapidly rehoused or prevented from becoming homeless through programs administered by HUD and VA.
More information about VA’s homeless programs is available here. More information about HUD’s programs is available here, or by calling the HUDVET National Hotline at (877) 424-3838. Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact their local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator or call 1-877-4AID-VET.