Homeless Veterans Decreased Dramatically in 2018: Will the Trend Continue?
Last year was a positive downward trend for homeless veterans. According to new estimates from federal researchers, in 2018 the number of homeless veterans decreased by about 5 percent. This is quite the turnaround compared to 2017. Now that it is 2019, one would wonder how this year will play out compared to years past.
According to Housing and Urban Development, approximately 38,000 veterans across the country are without stable housing on any given night. In 2010, it was approximately 74,000 per night. So, what caused the change?
This improvement, according to Ben Carson, is because of a series of initiatives started under President Barack Obama including the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program. This connects housing vouchers with local charities to provide a holistic approach to veterans’ physical and financial health. Also, in 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden created the Mayors Challenge. Through this program, 64 communities and three states declared an effective end to veteran homelessness.
With the ups and downs of leadership within the VA, it is hard to say what the percentage will be through 2019. Kathryn Monet, Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, said despite the federal funding for veterans’ homeless programs remaining strong, national leaders just aren’t giving enough attention to the issue.
States such as Texas, Florida, Arizona and California have higher rates of homelessness. This may or may not be attributed to the warmer climate or the higher population. This also may be because of the amount of VA medical centers in those states. Once veterans are discharged from the hospitals, they do not have anywhere else to go. As for VA medical centers, Arizona has four, California has ten, Florida has nine and Texas has nine.
The homelessness rate in each state is where Veterans Action Network can step in. Our organization can work to make sure the right officials are being elected into office to establish strong local, state, and national leadership for veterans’ needs. In 2018, 33 states saw a decrease in total number of homeless veterans, including California, which accounts for almost 30 percent of the nation’s homeless veterans’ population. If we can keep up to date on who the politicians are that are running for office with strong ties to veterans affairs, Veterans Action Network can step in to support and promote them.