The nation continues to make strides in its battle against veterans homelessness. According to the latest Annual Homeless Assessment Report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018 decreased 5.4% from the previous year and fell to nearly half of the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010.
The announcement from HUD and Veterans Affairs (VA) came at the beginning of November, which has been designated as National Veterans and Military Families Month by the administration to honor their sacrifices and service.
“We owe it to our veterans to make certain they have a place to call home,” said HUD secretary Ben Carson. “We’ve made great strides in our efforts to end veteran homelessness, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure those who wore our nation’s uniform have access to stable housing.”
The latest numbers come from the annual point-in-time count, where local communities across the country estimate how many people are experiencing homelessness in shelters, transitional housing programs, and in unsheltered locations on one single night in January.
The estimates found that 37,878 veterans experienced homelessness in January 2018 compared with 40,020 in January 2017. Of the reported homeless veterans, 23,312 were found in sheltered settings while 14,566 were found living in places not meant for human habitation, according to HUD.
In addition, a 10% decrease was seen for female veterans experiencing homelessness. The count estimated 3,219 homeless female veterans in January 2018 compared with 3,571 the prior year.
Much of the success can be credited to efforts on the federal, state, and local levels to end veterans homelessness. The HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines permanent HUD rental assistance with VA case management and clinical services, with more than 4,000 veterans finding permanent housing and services through the program last year alone. An additional 50,000 veterans found permanent supportive housing through the VA’s continuum of homeless programs in 2017.
Since 2014, when HUD, the VA, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced its Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, 64 communities and three states have achieved the goal of effectively ending homelessness.
“In Home, Together, the new federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, we redouble our commitment to ending homelessness among veterans and among all Americans,” said Matthew Doherty, USICH executive director. “Working together at the federal, state, and local level, we can and will continue to make progress until all Americans have a stable home from which they can pursue opportunity.”