The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Aug. 26released a new national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States.
Data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count conducted in January 2014 shows there were 49,933 homeless veterans in America, a decline of 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010. This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of veterans sleeping on the street.
HUD, VA, USICH, and local partners have used evidenced-based practices like Housing First and federal resources like HUD-VASH (the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program) to get veterans off the street and into stable housing as quickly as possible. Since 2008, the HUD-VASH program has served a total of 74,019 veterans.
“We have an obligation to ensure that every veteran has a place to call home,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. “In just a few years, we have made incredible progress reducing homelessness among veterans, but we have more work to do. HUD will continue collaborating with our federal and local partners to ensure that all of the men and women who have served our country have a stable home and an opportunity to succeed.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs and our federal and local partners should be proud of the gains made reducing veterans’ homelessness,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, “but so long as there remains a veteran living on our streets, we have more work to do.”
“As a nation, we have proven that homelessness is a problem we can solve,” said U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Laura Green Zeilinger. “Communities all across the country are meeting this costly tragedy with urgency and a focus on helping all veterans and their families achieve safe and stable housing.”
To accelerate progress on meeting the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Administration’s “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” in spring 2014. So far, more than 210 mayors, county, and state officials have committed to ending homelessness among veterans in their communities.
The federal government has provided significant new resources to help communities pursue the goal of ending homelessness among veterans. Communities that target these resources strategically are making significant progress and can end veteran homelessness in their communities in 2015. These strategies include:
* Using a Housing First approach, which removes barriers to help veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible, without unnecessary prerequisites;
* Prioritizing the most vulnerable veterans—especially those experiencing chronic homelessness—for permanent supportive housing opportunities, including those created through the HUD-VASH program;
* Coordinating outreach efforts to identify and engage every veteran experiencing homelessness and focus outreach efforts on achieving housing outcomes;
* Targeting rapid rehousing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for veteran families program, toward veterans who need shorter-term rental subsidies and services in order to be reintegrated back into our communities;
* Leveraging other housing and services resources that can help veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA’s programs get into stable housing;
* Increasing early detection and access to preventive services so at-risk veterans remain stably housed;
* Closely monitoring progress toward the goal, including the success of programs achieving permanent housing outcomes; and
* Aligning local goals and strategies with Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.