Homeless veterans in the United States
Veteran homelessness in America is not a phenomenon only of the 21st century; as early as the Reconstruction Era, homeless veterans were among the general homeless population. In 1932, homeless veterans were part of the Bonus Army. In 1934, there were as many as a quarter million veterans living on the streets. During the Truman Administration, there were one hundred thousand homeless veterans in Chicago, and a quarter of that number in Washington, D.C. In 1987, the number of homeless veterans was as high as three hundred thousand.
Estimates of the homeless population vary as these statistics are very difficult to obtain. In 2007, the first veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom began to be documented in homeless shelters. By 2009 there were 154,000 homeless, with slightly less than half having served in South Vietnam. According to the VA in 2011, veterans made up 14% of homeless adult males, and 2% of homeless adult females, and both groups were overrepresented within the homeless population compared to the general population. The overall count in 2012 showed 62,619 homeless veterans in the United States. In January 2013, there were an estimated 57,849 homeless veterans in the U.S., or 12% of the homeless population. Just under 8% were female. In July 2014, the largest population of homeless veterans lived in Los Angeles County, with there being over 6,000 homeless veterans, out of the total estimated 54,000 homeless within that area. In 2015, a report issued by HUD counted over 47,000 homeless veterans nationwide, the majority of whom were White and male. In 2016, there were over 39,000 homeless veterans nationwide. A Corps in terms of military size. As of January 2017, the state of California had the highest number of veterans experiencing homelessness. There were an estimated 11,472 homeless veterans. The biggest population of homeless veterans, after California, in 2017 lived in Florida - an estimated 2,817, and in Texas - 2,200.
Many programs and resources have been implemented across the United States in an effort to help homeless veterans. Among the prominent are:
- National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
- United States Department of Veteran Affairs
- United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
- The American Legion
- National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs
- Veterans of America
HUD-VASH, a housing voucher program by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Administration, gives out a certain number of Section 8 subsidized housing vouchers to eligible homeless and otherwise vulnerable U.S. armed forces veterans.
In 1887, the Sawtelle Veterans Home was constructed to care for disabled veterans, and housed more than a thousand homeless veterans. Other such old soldiers' homes were built throughout the United States, such as the one in New York. These homes became the predecessors of the Veteran Affairs' medical facilities.
Department of Veterans AffairsEdit
Along with President Barack Obama, Shinseki outlined a comprehensive five-year plan to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs and its efforts to end veteran homeless. The goal was to end veteran homelessness by 2015, but because of budget constraints that has now been pushed to 2017. The plan focused on prevention of homelessness along with help for those living on the streets. The plan would expand mental health care and housing options for veterans, and would collaborate with:
- The Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development
- Small Business Administration
- U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
- State directors of veterans affairs
- Veteran service organizations
- National, state, and local social service providers and community groups
In 2009, call centers were established in order to assist homeless veterans to gain assistance. As of December 2014, of the 79,500 veterans who contacted the call center, 27% were unable to speak to a counselor, and 47% of referrals led to no support services provided to the homeless veteran.
A study published in the American Journal of Addiction showed a link between veterans' trauma of mental disorders and their substance abuse.
In addition to government provided aid, private charities provide assistance to homeless veterans as well. These include providing some homeless veterans vehicles to live in, and building permanent housing for others. Advocating for the rights of homeless veterans through policy implementation and recommendations. Throughout the nation, multiple organizations and agencies host "Stand Down" events where homeless veterans are provided items and services; the first of these was held in San Diego, organized by Vietnam veterans, in 1988.
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EXHIBIT 5.3: Demographic Characteristics of Homeless Veterans
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