The number of veterans experiencing homelessness across the nation has dropped by 47% since 2010, announced officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
The nation saw a 17% decrease between January 2015 and January 2016, which is quadruple the previous year’s decline, according to the Obama administration.
During HUD’s latest annual Point-in-Time estimate, communities reported fewer than 40,000 veterans experiencing homelessness on a given night in January. Just over 13,000 unsheltered homeless veterans were living on the streets, a 56% decrease since 2010.
In 2010, the Obama administration launched Opening Doors, the first-ever strategic plan for preventing and ending homelessness across the nation. Much of the progress can be attributed to the partnerships between HUD, VA, USICH, and federal, state, and local partners.
The HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program also has been critical in the work to get veterans off of the streets. The program combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. Since 2008, more than 85,000 vouchers have been awarded, with more than 114,000 homeless veterans served.
In June, HUD and the VA announced nearly $38 million in HUD-VASH awards to serve another 5,200 homeless veterans.
“The dramatic decline in veteran homelessness reflects the power of partnerships in solving complex national problems on behalf of those who have served our nation,” said Robert A. McDonald, VA secretary, in a statement. “The men and women who have fought for this nation should not have to fight to keep a roof over their head. While this is very real progress that means tens of thousands of more veterans have a place to call home, we will not rest until every veteran in need is permanently housed.”
Since 2014, more than 880 mayors, governors, and other local officials have joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness, launched by first lady Michelle Obama. To date, 27 communities, including Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, and two states, Connecticut and Virginia, have effectively ended veteran homelessness.