Veterans

April 3, 2012

VA makes progress on pledge to end veteran homelessness

by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

The Veterans Affairs Department is making progress on its pledge to end homelessness among veterans, with a focus on getting all homeless veterans off the streets by 2015, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki told American Forces Press Service.

Shinseki joined President Barack Obama in announcing the plan in November 2009, proclaiming that no veteran should ever have to be living on the streets.

VA is working toward that goal, Shinseki told Congress last month, reporting that the number of homeless veterans on a given night dropped from 76,300 in 2010 to about 67,500 in 2011. The next goal, he said, is to drive those numbers down to 35,000 by the end of fiscal 2013, and ultimately, to zero.

As Shinseki set out to transform VA after arriving in 2009, he made the homeless issue a top priority in getting to the bottom of what he viewed as an institutional problem.

“Homelessness among veterans was a demonstration to me that we didn’t have all our programs knitted together,” he said. “As good as we thought we were doing in health care and other benefits, … we had people who were slipping through the gaps in our programs — most visibly, the homeless.”

Getting homeless veterans off the streets, particularly within such a tight timeline, would be the driving force in creating positive change throughout VA, he explained.

“If you say you are going to end homelessness, then you have to be good at everything else,” he said. “If you declare to end it, you have to figure out all the pieces that contribute to it so you can begin solving the pieces in order for the whole to be solved.”

That, he said, requires making sure VA is addressing the root causes behind homelessness.

It means more than simply getting veterans into school; it means making sure they graduate, he explained. It’s not just sending them for vocational training; it’s ensuring they finish the training and are postured to land a job.

“That’s how you beat homelessness,” Shinseki said. “It’s not the front door. It’s the back door. What did they gain out of the program?”

To support this effort, VA’s budget request for fiscal 2013 includes nearly $1.4 billion for programs designed to prevent or end homelessness among veterans. This represents a 33 percent increase, or $333 million, over the 2012 funding level.

The additional funding will provide grants and technical assistance to community nonprofit organizations to maintain veterans and their families in current housing or get them quickly into new housing. It also will provide grants and per diem payments for community-based organizations offering transitional housing to 32,000 veterans.

Shinseki also plans to hire 200 coordinators to help homeless veterans with disability claims, housing problems, job and vocational opportunities and problems with the courts.

Since announcing his homeless initiative, Shinseki said, he’s come to understand that dealing with homelessness is really a two-part challenge.

It’s one thing to get homeless veterans physically off the streets in what he calls the “rescue” part of the challenge. Shinseki said he feels confident that this part of the mission to be completed by 2015, as promised.

But the less visible and more challenging part of the problem, he said, is addressing a population that’s at risk of becoming homeless. These, Shinseki explained, are veterans who are “one paycheck, one mortgage payment, one more missed utility bill away from being evicted.”

“We never see that. But if we are going to truly end homelessness, we have to have a better picture of [that]… and go into prevention mode,” Shinseki said. “Otherwise, you will never be able to solve this.”

So while he expects the rescue mission to wrap up in 2015, Shinseki said, he’ll be able to dedicate more resources toward an ongoing prevention effort.

“If you don’t stop this faucet, you never end homelessness,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 25, 2014

News: VA reform bills stalled by partisan bickering - Plans for a comprehensive Veterans Affairs Department reform bill that appeared all but finished a month ago devolved into partisan bickering and funding fights July 24, casting doubt on the future of a deal.   Business: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed announce bids on Danish fighter competition; Saab withdraws -...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq U.S. Marine Corp officers are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States. A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said July 24 that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
lm-kmax

Lockheed Martin’s unmanned cargo helicopter team returns from deployment

After lifting more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducting thousands of delivery missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system has returned ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>