The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced Aug. 1 the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States has been cut nearly in half since 2010.
The data revealed 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 (PIT) 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.
The January 2016 estimate found just over 13,000 unsheltered homeless veterans living on their streets, a 56-percent decrease since 2010. View local estimates of veteran homelessness.
This significant progress is a result of the partnership among HUD, VA, USICH, and other federal, state and local partners. These critical partnerships were sparked by the 2010 launch of Opening Doors, the first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
The initiative’s success among veterans can also be attributed to the effectiveness of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.
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,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “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 is the result of the Obama administration’s investments in permanent supportive housing solutions such as HUD-VASH and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programs, extensive community partnerships, coordinated data and outreach, and other proven strategies that put veterans first,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “Although this achievement is noteworthy, 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, 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 ambitious 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.
To date, 27 communities and two states have effectively ended veteran homelessness, serving as models for others across the nation. 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 FY 2015, these programs helped more than 157,000 people — including 99,000 veterans and 34,000 children — secure or remain in permanent housing. 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 at www.va.gov/homeless . More information about HUD’s programs is available at or by calling the HUDVET National Hotline at (877) 424-3838 or at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/homeless.
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. (Source: VA News Release | August 1, 2016)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veteran updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.