Veterans - Overview

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 35 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 2015 Point-in-Time Count, 47,725 veterans experienced homelessness on a single night in January 2015. That estimate represents a 4 percent decline compared to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2014 estimate, and a 35 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.”


Library Resources

Other | October 15, 2015
This resource is meant for mayors who have signed on to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015. It lays out the five key tasks that mayors should undertake to achieve the goal of ending homelessness in their cities, and provides numerous links to helpful resources on the Alliance website and elsewhere.
Webinar | June 19, 2015
This video is a recording of a webinar that originally streamed, June 18, 2015, that covered steps two and four of the Alliance's "Five Steps for Ending Veteran Homelessness" resource. Presenters from the Alliance and UNITY of Greater New Orleans discussed strategies for recruiting landlords, identifying housing stock and supportive services, and matching veterans with them to ensure that they are successfully and permanently housed.
Fact Sheets | April 22, 2015
This veteran homelessness fact sheet presents information on the number of of veterans experiencing homelessness, the demographics of the population, causes of homelessness among veterans, and federal programs that address the issue.
Federal Policy Brief | February 12, 2014
This resource looks at new Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF) funding opportunities. It provides tips for Continuums of Care (CoCs) to use in selecting an organization to receive Priority 1 funding under the new NOFA.