Veteran homelessness continues to fall, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest point-in-time count, but not nearly fast enough to reach the government’s target of zero homeless veterans by the end of the year.
On a single night in January 2015, state and local planning agencies found fewer than 48,000 homeless veterans, a 2,000-person drop from a year earlier. Over the past five years, veteran homelessness fell by 36 percent, including a 47 percent decline in unsheltered veterans, according to a HUD press release.
Officials say the count of homeless veterans likely has dropped even further in the 10 months since the survey was taken, but also said they do not expect to meet the goal set in 2010 of eliminating the problem this year, reported Military Times.
Matthew Doherty, executive director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, defended the 2015 goal as a way to focus community efforts.
“The value of having these kinds of urgent and ambitious goals is that it drives more progress than we ever would have achieved otherwise,” Doherty said. “As we get closer to that goal date, we’re seeing that level of urgency and action in communities.”
Over the past year, a number of cities — including Phoenix, Houston, New Orleans and Salt Lake City — announced they had effectively ended veteran homelessness. Earlier this month, Virginia declared that it had become the first state to meet the federal definition of ending homelessness among military veterans.
The decline in veteran homelessness is largely attributed to federal spending and the collaboration between HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs on the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which provides a rental subsidy along with support services for veterans who need them, according to HUD. Last week, HUD and VA announced an additional $12 million to expand the program.