Look around…There are less homeless veterans in cities across our nation.
Thanks to partnerships at the federal, state, and local levels, veteran homelessness is down 47 percent between 2010 and 2016 — including a 17 percent reduction during 2015 alone, federal data shows.
Ending veteran homelessness has been a major federal priority.
According to the White House: “A growing list of more than 35 communities, and the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia, have proven that ending veteran homelessness is possible and sustainable. As documented through the federal Criteria and Benchmarks, they have proven that we can drive down the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness to as close to zero as possible, while also building and sustaining systems that can effectively and efficiently address Veterans’ housing crises in the future.”
As we know, ending veteran homelessness has been a daunting task for many decades.
Just a few years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that more than 39,400 veterans were homeless on any given night, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. In 2010, 12,700 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) were homeless. About 1.4 million other veterans have been considered at risk of homelessness.
Most of the homeless have been male (with roughly 9 percent being female); single; living in urban areas; and suffering from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders, according to the Coalition.
The reasons for veteran homelessness are numerous, starting with a shortage of affordable housing, declining livable income, and limited access to health care, according to the Coalition. In addition, a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
Add to that the fact that military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing many veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment.
The Veterans Support Organization supports the fight to end veteran homelessness. Over the years, we have given many jobs to indigent veterans as well as grants to many veterans’ causes to provide for struggling veterans. We’ll continue supporting more veterans and organizations from our office on the Treasure Coast of Florida.
We applaud the efforts done so far to eradicate veteran homelessness. Let’s hope these initiatives continue.
Story written by Richard VanHouten, founder and CEO of Veterans Support Organization.