Military Connection: Veteran Homelessness Down: By Debbie Gregory

Veterans helping veteransThe U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as the U.S. Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently issued a new national estimate of Veteran homelessness. Using data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count, conducted in January, 2014, revealed that there were 49,933 homeless Veterans in America. This year’s number shows a 33% decline since 2010, when there were 74,770 Veterans reportedly living on the streets.

The VA, HUD, and USICH, as well as other local partners, have used evidenced-based practices like Housing First and federal resources such as HUD-VASH (the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program) to find stable housing for Homeless Veterans. Since 2008, the HUD-VASH program has assisted 74,019 homeless Veterans, and Veteran families who were in danger of becoming homeless.

The federal government has provided significant new resources to help communities pursue the goal of ending homelessness among Veterans. Strategically targeting these resources is resulting in communities making significant progress towards ending Veteran homelessness.

The federal government has created a goal to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. There are several policies and programs that are currently geared towards reaching the goal.

Using a Housing First approach and eliminating unnecessary prerequisites, the federal government has made progress in removing barriers and helping Veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible. The government’s programs have found success through prioritizing the most vulnerable Veterans, especially Veterans experiencing chronic homelessness, for permanent supportive housing opportunities.

The utilization of rehousing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, has aided Veterans who need short-term assistance to reintegrate back into our communities.

Government programs have also found success by increasing early detection efforts, and providing Veterans with greater access to preventive services. They have also been leveraging other housing resources that can help Veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA’s programs get into stable housing.

By closely monitoring their progress, and remaining committed to their goal, it is reasonable to believe that Veteran Homelessness could be eradicated in 2015. But it can only happen through continued government efforts and the support of the American people.

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Military Connection: Veteran Homelessness Down: By Debbie Gregory