The problem of Veteran homelessness is not a new one. As far back as the Reconstruction Era, when soldiers were returning home from the American Civil War, Veterans experienced homelessness. In 2016, over 39,000 Veterans were living homeless with the two worst states being California and Florida.
Thankfully, there are organizations and government programs dedicated to solving the problem of Veteran homelessness. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been playing a major role in reducing and eliminating Veteran homelessness in the U.S. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, Veteran homelessness decreased by 5.4 percent through various VA programs and initiatives. Since 2010, there has been a 49 percent decrease overall in Veteran homelessness, which means that these programs really do make a difference.
So far, through the efforts of VA, Veteran homelessness has been officially declared eliminated in 66 local communities and three states. When a homeless Veteran is found, they are quickly put on the path to permanent housing and are given tools and strategies they need in order to be rehabilitated into society successfully.
HUD-VASH, a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA, has been making great strides when it comes to providing housing services to Veterans. HUD provides a number of services to Vets including rental assistance vouchers. Working together, Veterans that use HUD may then be connected with a VA case manager who will ensure that they receive health care, mental health treatment, and substance use counseling. HUD-VASH enrolls the largest number of Veterans who have experience long-term or repeated homelessness. Veterans interested in HUD-VASH should visit their website here.
While great strides have been made to end the crisis of Veteran homelessness, there is a still a long way to go. If you know of a homeless Veteran or would like to find out about more ways to get involved and make a difference, please visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website here.