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Can We End Veteran Homelessness? Yes.
February 10, 2014
As part of the Alliance’s Never Another Homeless Veteran Campaign, we have put together this Frequently Asked Questions resource that answers some fundamental questions about the fight to end veteran homelessness. If you want to join the fight, please add your name to the Alliance’s Never Another Homelessness Veteran statement!
Who is a veteran?
A veteran is someone who has served in the military, during either peacetime or war.
Why do some veterans become homeless?
Many veterans face a number of challenges that civilians are less likely to face. Veterans who have served in combat can have unique health issues like post-traumatic stress-disorder and traumatic brain injury; others struggle with substance abuse. Lack of affordable housing and high unemployment rates along with these factors have a direct impact on their ability to maintain stable employment and housing.
Who are homeless veterans?
Most homeless veterans are male, but a growing segment of the population of homeless veterans is female, close to 10 percent. Most homeless veterans are single and live in cities. Many suffer from a combination of health conditions like mental illness, physical disabilities, and substance abuse.
Can we end veteran homelessness?
Yes! Veteran homelessness is an enormous problem, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be solved. And we know how. First we must house currently homeless veterans, and then we must put in place a system that will prevent new veterans from becoming homeless.
The good news is we are well on our way. We are already housing homeless veterans using interventions like housing vouchers and short-term rental assistance for veteran families, and permanent housing options with supportive services for veterans who face significant challenges, like physical disabilities or mental illness. With continued funding and political will, we will end veteran homelessness.
How are we ending veteran homelessness?
In 2010 the administration announced Opening Doors, the federal plan to end homelessness, which included a plan to end veteran homelessness by 2015. The plan was based on a deceptively simple idea called Housing First. Past approaches to veteran homelessness often required homeless veterans to complete treatment or demonstrate “housing readiness” before they could be housed. Under Housing First, homeless veterans are housed as quickly as possible, and then provided with supportive services, including treatment, if they need it, to ensure they remain housed.
Why is veteran homelessness going down?
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 57,849 veterans experienced homelessness on a given night in 2013, compared to 2010, when 76,329 experienced homelessness on a given night. What accounts for this significant decline? It’s due primarily to the success of homeless assistance programs, particularly the Supportive Housing voucher program run by HUD and the Department of Veterans affairs (VA), which permanently houses disabled veterans who have experienced homelessness for years. Another program contributing to the decline is Supportive Services for Veteran Families, which rapidly provides housing to homeless veteran families.
What can I do?
- Know the crisis line phone number: If you know of a veteran who needs help, you can call is 1-877-424-3838. Here is the VA website with more information about the crisis line, chat, and text services:
- Join the Alliance Advocacy network. At the Alliance, we’re working hard to provide to spread important information to homeless advocates and people who want to end homelessness and provide them with opportunities to make a difference.
- Educate yourself: Good job, you’re doing this right now! The Alliance website and newsletter are great resources for learning more out about homelessness and keep up on the latest developments in the ongoing fight to end homelessness, not just for veterans, but for everyone.
- Find out what’s going on in your city and state: Do you know what’s going on in your community? A lot is happening at the state and local levels, so take it upon yourself to learn more about how your local organizations are addressing homelessness.
- Get Involved: There are lots of way you can give back to your community. You can help out at your local VA medical center. They often need volunteers. See what auxiliary and veteran organizations are doing to help and see what you can do to strengthen their efforts.
- Give a donation: Many local and national organizations around the country are working together to end veteran homelessness. If you have the means to lend financial support to one of them, you can be sure your donation will be put to good use.