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|In 2009, the Obama Administration committed to ending veteran homelessness in the U.S. by the end of 2015. Since then, there has been a 33 percent decrease in the number of homeless veterans.|
In 2009, the Obama Administration committed to ending veteran homelessness in the U.S. by the end of 2015. According to data collected during the 2014 Point-in-Time Count, 49,933 veterans experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2014. That estimate represents a 14 percent decline compared to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2013 estimate, and a 33 percent decline compared to its 2009 estimate.
The veteran homelessness population is made up of veterans who served in several different conflicts, ranging from World War II to the recent conflicts. Though research indicates that veterans who served in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era are at greatest risk of homelessness, veterans returning from the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq often have severe disabilities, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that are known to be correlated with homelessness. And as the military evolves, so too do the challenges. Homeless women veterans, for instance, are far more common now than in any other time in the past.
In 2009, then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki set the bold goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Since then, the Obama Administration, the new VA Secretary Robert McDonald, and Congress have shown their support of this goal by devoting substantial funding to the problem, with the Administration proposing and Congress approving increases in funding for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
As with the general homeless population, rapid re-housing and Housing First strategies are critical for many veterans experiencing homelessness. However, those veterans with the most severe physical and mental health disabilities – often caused by their military service – require permanent housing with supportive services.
On June 4, 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new program that aims to end veteran homelessness in the U.S. by 2015, the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. The Alliance has created an interactive map tracking progress in the cities and states where mayors, governors, and local government officials have committed to the challenge of ending veteran homelessness in their communities: “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness Map.”