USA — Government Publishes Veterans Homelessness Report

WASHINGTON — The Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment and Vet­er­ans Affairs depart­ments today pub­lished what offi­cials say is the most author­i­ta­tive analy­sis yet of the extent and nature of home­less­ness among mil­i­tary vet­er­ans.
Accord­ing to HUD and VA’s assess­ment, near­ly 76,000 vet­er­ans were home­less on a giv­en night in 2009, while rough­ly 136,000 vet­er­ans spent at least one night in a shel­ter dur­ing that year.

The assess­ment, part of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s plan to pre­vent and end home­less­ness in Amer­i­ca, is based on an annu­al report HUD pro­vides to Con­gress and explores in greater depth the demo­graph­ics of vet­er­ans who are home­less, how vet­er­ans com­pare to oth­ers who are home­less, and how vet­er­ans access and use the nation’s home­less response sys­tem.

“This report offers a much clear­er pic­ture about what it means to be a vet­er­an liv­ing on our streets or in our shel­ters,” HUD Sec­re­tary Shaun Dono­van said. “Under­stand­ing the nature and scope of vet­er­an home­less­ness is crit­i­cal to meet­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s goal of end­ing vet­er­ans’ home­less­ness with­in five years.”

“With our fed­er­al, state and com­mu­ni­ty part­ners work­ing togeth­er, more vet­er­ans are mov­ing into safe hous­ing,” Sec­re­tary of Vet­er­ans Affairs Eric K. Shin­se­ki said. “But we’re not done yet.

“Pro­vid­ing assis­tance in men­tal health, sub­stance abuse treat­ment, edu­ca­tion and employ­ment goes hand-in-hand with pre­ven­tive steps and per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing,” Shin­se­ki con­tin­ued. “We con­tin­ue to work towards our goal of find­ing every vet­er­an safe hous­ing and access to need­ed ser­vices.”

Oba­ma announced in June the nation’s first com­pre­hen­sive strat­e­gy to pre­vent and end home­less­ness, includ­ing a focus on home­less vet­er­ans. The report, Open­ing Doors: Fed­er­al Strate­gic Plan to Pre­vent and End Home­less­ness, puts the coun­try on a path to end vet­er­ans’ and chron­ic home­less­ness by 2015; and to end­ing home­less­ness among chil­dren and fam­i­lies by 2020.

Key find­ings of the report include:

— More than 3,000 cities and coun­ties report­ed 75,609 home­less vet­er­ans on a sin­gle night in Jan­u­ary of 2009; 57 per­cent were stay­ing in an emer­gency shel­ter or tran­si­tion­al hous­ing pro­gram while the remain­ing 43 per­cent were unshel­tered. Vet­er­ans rep­re­sent about 12 per­cent of all home­less peo­ple count­ed nation­wide dur­ing the 2009 assess­ment;

— Dur­ing a 12-month peri­od in 2009, about 136,000 vet­er­ans — or about 1 in every 168 vet­er­ans — spent at least one night in an emer­gency shel­ter or tran­si­tion­al hous­ing pro­gram. The vast major­i­ty of shel­tered home­less vet­er­ans — 96 per­cent — expe­ri­enced home­less­ness alone. Four per­cent of home­less vet­er­ans were found to be part of a fam­i­ly. Shel­tered home­less vet­er­ans are most often sin­gle white men between the ages of 31 and 50 and liv­ing with a dis­abil­i­ty;

— Vet­er­ans are 50 per­cent more like­ly to become home­less com­pared to all Amer­i­cans and the risk is even greater among vet­er­ans liv­ing in pover­ty and poor minor­i­ty vet­er­ans. HUD and VA exam­ined the like­li­hood of becom­ing home­less among Amer­i­can vet­er­ans with par­tic­u­lar demo­graph­ic char­ac­ter­is­tics and found that dur­ing 2009, twice as many poor His­pan­ic vet­er­ans used a shel­ter com­pared with poor non-His­pan­ic vet­er­ans. African Amer­i­can vet­er­ans in pover­ty had sim­i­lar rates of home­less­ness;

— Most vet­er­ans who used emer­gency shel­ter stayed for only brief peri­ods. One-third stayed in a shel­ter for less than a week; 61 per­cent used a shel­ter for less than a month; and 84 per­cent stayed for less than three months. The report also con­clud­ed that vet­er­ans remained in shel­ters longer than did non-vet­er­ans;

— Near­ly half of home­less vet­er­ans were in Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, New York and Flori­da while only 28 per­cent of all vet­er­ans were locat­ed in those states;

— Shel­tered home­less vet­er­ans are far more like­ly to be alone rather than be part of a fam­i­ly house­hold; 96 per­cent of vet­er­ans are indi­vid­u­als com­pared to 66 per­cent in the over­all home­less pop­u­la­tion.

HUD and VA are work­ing to admin­is­ter a joint pro­gram tar­get­ing home­less vet­er­ans. Through the HUD-Vet­er­ans Affairs Sup­port­ive Hous­ing Pro­gram, HUD pro­vides rental assis­tance for home­less vet­er­ans while VA offers case man­age­ment and clin­i­cal ser­vices.

HUD last month award­ed $1.4 bil­lion to keep near­ly 7,000 local home­less assis­tance pro­grams oper­at­ing. The Depart­ment also allo­cat­ed $1.5 bil­lion through its new Home­less Pre­ven­tion and Rapid Re-hous­ing Pro­gram. Made pos­si­ble through the Amer­i­can Recov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act of 2009, HPRP is intend­ed to pre­vent per­sons from falling into home­less­ness or to rapid­ly re-house them if they do.

To date, more than 750,000 peo­ple, includ­ing more than 15,000 vet­er­ans, have been assist­ed through HPRP.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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