Veteran Homelessness Cut Nearly 50 Percent, Efforts Toward Further Reductions Continue

August 24, 2016

On August 1, 2016, the Obama administration announced a nearly 50 percent decline in veteran homelessness. The information is based on data gathered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). The data revealed a 17 percent decrease in veteran homelessness between January 2015 and January 2016, which is four times the decline seen the previous year, and a 47 percent decrease since 2010.

Also noteworthy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the VA announced in late August that a second round of funding would be made available to help provide permanent homes to an estimated 108 veterans experiencing homelessness in seven states. A rental assistance program, the effort was announced August 22, 2016 and will be provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program. Rental assistance funds from HUD are combined with case management and clinical services provided by the VA to provide an all-encompassing support system to help homeless veterans obtain permanent housing.

This funding should pave the way for an even more significant decline in veteran homelessness. Even now, several mayors throughout the U.S. announced that veteran homelessness has officially ended in their cities. This accomplishment was aided by First Lady Michelle Obama’s launch of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, a program that aims to accelerate the goal of ending veteran homelessness across the entire nation. Through this initiative, more than 880 mayors, governors, and other local officials have joined the challenge and committed to ending veteran homelessness in their communities. As of August 1, 2016, 27 communities and two states have effectively ended veteran homelessness.

“There is momentum across the nation as community after community effectively ends veteran homelessness,” said Secretary Julian Castro in an August 22 press release from HUD. “Today’s funding will help more cities reach this important goal and ensure that we serve the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for us. HUD and its local partners are determined to give every veteran the opportunity to secure a safe, stable place to call home.”

“The dramatic reduction in Veteran homelessness in recent years would not have been possible without the pairing of housing choice vouchers with case management and supportive services under the HUD-VASH program to help the most vulnerable Veterans become and remain stably housed,” VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald stated in the same press release. “The HUD-VASH awards announced today will support the ongoing and important work underway to ensure that homelessness among Veterans is rare and non-recurring.”

According to the August 1 report from HUD, it is estimated that fewer than 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness on a given night in January 2016. The January 2016 estimate found a little more than 13,000 unsheltered homeless veterans living on the streets. This represents a 56 percent decrease since 2010.

“We have an absolute duty to ensure those who’ve worn our nation’s uniform have a place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Julian Castro in the August 1 press release from HUD. “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 to 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,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald in the August 1 press release. “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 health 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.”

Photography by [Brian Eichhorn] ©

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