Nearly 76,000 veterans were homeless on a given night in 2009 while about 136,000 vets spent at least one night in a shelter that year, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA).
It is the first time that the federal agencies published an analysis of the extent of homelessness among veterans.
“This report offers a much clearer picture about what it means to be a veteran living on our streets or in our shelters,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a statement.
Key findings include:
- Veterans are 50 percent more likely to become homeless compared with all Americans, and the risk is even greater among veterans living in poverty and poor minority vets.
- More than 3,000 cities and counties reported 75,609 homeless vets on a single night in January 2009—57 percent were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional-housing program while the remaining 43 percent were unsheltered. Vets represented about 12 percent of all homeless persons counted.
- During 2009, an estimated 136,000 veterans—about 1 in every 168 vets—spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional-housing program. Sheltered homeless vets are most often individual white men between the ages of 31 and 50 and living with a disability.
- Nearly half of homeless veterans were in California, Texas, New York, and Florida, while only 28 percent of all veterans were located in those same four states.
- Most vets who used emergency shelter stayed for only brief periods. One-third stayed in a shelter for less than one week; 61 percent used a shelter for less than one month; and 84 percent stayed for less than three months.
HUD and the VA are working to administer a joint program targeted to homeless vets. Through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, HUD provides rental assistance for homeless veterans while the VA offers case management and clinical services. Since 2008, $225 million has been allocated to provide services to about 30,000 individuals. HUD also reports that the recent Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program has assisted 750,000 persons, including more than 15,000 vets.