Nearly 76,000 military veterans were homeless on a given night in 2009, and close to 136,000 veterans resided in shelters that same year, according to an assessment recently released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The report, “Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress,” released on Feb. 10, is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the extent and nature of homelessness among American veterans.
According to the report, on a single night in January 2009, 75,609 veterans were homeless while 57 percent were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. The remaining 43 percent were either living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another uninhabitable place.
“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 in a statement. “Understanding the nature and scope of veteran homelessness is critical to meeting President Obama’s goal of ending veterans’ homelessness within five years.”
The report also found that at one point in 2009, approximately 12 percent of all people and 16 percent of adults who were homeless were also veterans. On a given night, half of the homeless veterans were located in California, Texas, New York and Florida.
“Anytime a veteran sleeps on the same streets he or she defended, we are all dishonored,” VA Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth said during a recent teleconference.
Data also showed that rates of homelessness among minority veterans were particularly high, with 1 in 4 homeless vets being Black or Latino.
While women and young veterans between ages 18 to 30 make up a small number of total veterans, they remain at a high risk of becoming homeless.
To combat this issue, President Obama announced in June a strategy to prevent and end homelessness, which included a special focus on America’s veterans. “The Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homeless” aims to end severe homelessness among veterans by 2015 and to end homelessness among children and their families by 2020.
In addition, HUD and the VA plan to fight veteran homelessness with their HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, which provides rental assistance to homeless veterans and offers case management and clinical services.
“With our federal, state and community partners working together, more Veterans are moving into safe housing,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement. “But we’re not done yet. Providing assistance in mental health, substance abuse treatment, education and employment goes hand-in-hand with preventative steps and permanent supportive housing. We continue to work towards our goal of finding every Veteran safe housing and access to needed services.”
For more information, and to view the report, visit: http://www.hudhre.info/documents/2009AHARVeteransReport.pdf