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|In 2010, the Obama Administration committed to ending veteran homelessness in the U.S. by the end of 2015. Since then, there has been a 25 percent decrease in the number of homeless veterans.|
Among the key findings included in Part 1 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report was the estimate that 57,849 veterans were homeless on a single night in 2013. That estimate represents a 8 percent decline compared to HUD's 2012 estimate, and a 25 percent decline compared to its 2007 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 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 2010, Eric Shinseki, VA Secretary, set the bold goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Since then, the Obama Administration and Congress have have shown their support of the Secretary’s goal by devoting substantial funding to the problem, with the Administration proposing and Congress approving large increases in funding for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
As with the general homeless population, rapid re-housing and homelessness prevention 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.