Now new preliminary data just released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shows progress has been made, with the rate of veteran homelessness dropping 11 percent since 2020.
The VA said it’s down 55.3 percent since 2010.
“The statistics are very encouraging, and I think it’s evident of the VA’s commitment to end veteran homelessness,” said David Kurtz, Executive Director of Veterans on the Rise.
Veterans on the Rise is a nonprofit group that provides case management and housing services to homeless vets in Washington D.C.
Kurtz says the key is outreach.
“That’s always where it starts, bringing veterans into the system,” said Kurtz. “So, continued outreach efforts and making sure that veterans who are in danger of homelessness are aware of the robust programs that VA makes available.”
According to the VA, the data shows on any given night, it’s estimated there are more than 33,000 homeless veterans, which is down from more than 37,000 in 2020.
“One veteran not having a secure place to live is too many, but this data is obviously very encouraging,” said Kaitlynne Yancy, Associate Director of Government Affairs for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
Yancy said while the latest data is promising, IAVA is concerned that some veterans without a stable home aren’t being counted.
“One of the things that IAVA has really advocated for is adjusting the definition of veteran homelessness to include couch surfing,” said Yancy. “Those veterans who aren’t technically classified as homeless but they’re having to stay on one of their friends’ or family member’s couch because they don’t have their own domicile. 77 percent of our members actually stated that they couch surfed after leaving the military. So, that’s a really large amount.”
David Higgins, Communications Associate for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), said the organization is pleased to see the double-digit decrease in the rate of veteran homelessness but says there is still more work to be done.
“There is much more to not just reduce but end veteran homelessness,” said Higgins. “Looking deeper we see that 13,564 veterans experienced unsheltered homelessness. Meaning these veterans live in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, and literally on the street which is clearly unacceptable. More work also needs to be done to ensure that those groups of people that are underserved and overrepresented in the homeless population have programs and services that work for them and aids their specific needs.”
The VA said the complete data for the 2022 count of homeless veterans is expected to be released later this year.
©2022 Imagicomm Tulsa, Inc.