The number of Veterans experiencing homelessness has been reduced significantly in recent years. Since 2010, homelessness among Veterans has been reduced by an estimated 47% and unsheltered homelessness has fallen by 56%.
However, there were still an estimated 40,000 Veterans experiencing homelessness on our streets and in our shelters on a single night in January 2015.
We can do better for our nation's Veterans. A growing number of communities across the country have already effectively ended Veteran homelessness. We mustn't let up until every community has reached that goal. And then we must sustain our efforts, not just today or tomorrow, but every day.
Veterans experience homelessness for many of the same reasons that non-Veterans do, including economic and personal hardships and a shortage of affordable housing. However, exposure to combat and repeated deployments may also contribute to homelessness. Veterans have high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma, that may make it difficult for them to build trust or control impulses, or other effects that challenge their ability to find employment and build stable relationships. Multiple and extended deployments may also contribute to unemployment and family conflict that can lead to isolation and homelessness.
Since 2010, VA and other federal partners have expanded the array of services and supports aimed at identifying and rapidly connecting Veterans to housing, clinical care, and social services. Through new resource investments from Congress, effective interventions — like the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, the Veterans Justice Outreach program, and Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration program — have grown substantially.
More recently, a growing coalition of more than 850 mayors, governors, and county officials have committed to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and are proving that the goal can be achieved.
In order to keep up the momentum, our Council members are executing a comprehensive set of strategic actions, including:
- Supporting communities to implement the most effective strategies for ending Veteran homelessness
- Using data to monitor program performance and to determine the resources needed to achieve the goal
- Increasing early detection and access to preventive services so at-risk Veterans and their families remain stably housed
- Coordinating outreach efforts to identify and engage every Veteran experiencing homelessness and focus outreach efforts on achieving housing outcomes
- Ensuring widespread adoption of a Housing First approach
- Prioritizing the most vulnerable Veterans — especially those experiencing chronic homelessness — for permanent supportive housing opportunities
- Targeting rapid re-housing interventions toward Veterans and their families who need shorter-term support
- Leveraging other housing and services resources that can help Veterans and their families who are ineligible for some of VA’s programs