The nation has cut the number of homeless veterans by 47 percent since 2010, when the Obama administration vowed to completely end veteran homelessness.
“We have just about cut veterans’ homelessness in half. We’ve helped bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets, but we’re not slowing down,” President Obama said Monday at the Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta. “We will not stop until every veteran who fought for America has a home in America.”
While the nation fell well short of eliminating veteran homelessness, Obama knew his goal was ambitious, White House spokesman Eric Shultz said.
About 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, a 17 percent decline from last year, according to a White House fact sheet. The number of unsheltered veterans declined by 20 percent last year, and since 2010 the figure has dropped 56 percent. Those results are based on the 2016 point-in-time count conducted in January.
One reason for missing the goal was because of problems in Los Angeles, which has the largest veteran homeless population in the country, said Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald. California has more than 9,600 homeless veterans, more than any other state. Yet, significant progress has been made in Los Angeles, with the population of homeless veterans there falling 30 percent over the past year.
“I don’t know when we’ll get to zero,” McDonald said, reported USA Today. “Zero continues to be the goal.”
Over 880 city and county officials have pledged to end veteran homelessness as result of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, which was launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. To date, 27 communities and two states have announced they have ended veteran homelessness, according to the fact sheet.