Veterans Homelessness: An Overview of the Data

written by Pete Witte
November 7, 2011
Here are the eye-popping facts taken from the October report authored by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress:
  • On a given night in 2010, more veterans were homeless than in 2009 (76,329 compared to 75,609);
    • Nearly 33,000 of those veterans were living on the streets, in abandoned buildings, in cars, or other places non intended for human habitation;
    • Veterans make up nearly 12 percent of the total homeless population;
  • From October 2009 to September 2010, almost 150,000 veterans spent a night at a shelter or in transitional housing;
    • About one-third of those veterans were sheltered in suburban or rural areas;
  • Nationally, the rate of veterans homelessness is 35 out of every 10,000 veterans are homeless;
    • There are 12 states where this rate is higher (see map above); and
    • In Washington, DC, the rate is 190 per 10,000 veterans;
  • More than half (51 percent) of sheltered homeless veterans have a disability;
  • Veterans are more than twice as likely to be homeless as non-veterans;
  • If you are a female veteran, you are two and a half times more likely to be homeless as non-veteran females;
    • If you are a poor female veteran, you are nearly three and a half times as likely to be homeless as non-veteran poor females;
  • Among minority groups, poor veterans’ risk of homelessness is higher;
    • Poor Hispanics and Latinos veterans are nearly three times more likely to be homeless than non-veteran poor Hispanics and Latinos;
    • Poor Hispanics and Latinos veterans are nearly three times more likely to be homeless than non-veteran poor Hispanics and Latinos;
    • Poor African-Americans veterans are more than two times as likely to be homeless than non-veteran poor African Americans;
  • A veteran aged 18 to 30 is more than twice as likely to become homeless as a non-veteran of that same age cohort;
  • Among the 18 to 30 age cohort, if you are a poor veteran you are nearly four times as likely to be homeless as a non-veteran in your cohort.
And while I just laid out the “eye-popping” facts, I want to leave you with an important, departing (and encouraging) fact. In November, 2009, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary, General Eric Shinseki said, “[The VA is] committed to ending homelessness among veterans within the next five years. Those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope.” I agree. And if you’ve read this far, then I imagine that you’ll want to know more about what can be done to ensure that all veterans maintain permanent housing. To find out more about how to end homelessness among veterans and to hear about associated activities that VA and HUD have taken up, see Alliance veterans’ policy analyst Ian Lisman’s blog article here. For a one-pager on veterans homelessness, please visit the Alliance website.