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Homeless veterans in the United States

Homeless veterans are persons who have served in the armed forces who are homeless or living without access to secure and appropriate accommodation.[1]



Many of these veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder that often occurs after extreme emotional trauma involving threat or injury. Causes of homelessness include:[2]


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.[3] In 1932, homeless veterans were part of the Bonus Army.[4] In 1934, there were as many as a quarter million veterans living on the streets.[5] During the Truman Administration, there were one hundred thousand homeless veterans in Chicago, and a quarter of that number in Washington, D.C.[6] In 1987, the number of homeless veterans was as high as three hundred thousand.[7]

Estimates of the homeless population vary as these statistics are very difficult to obtain.[8] In 2007, the first veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom began to be documented in homeless shelters.[9] By 2009 there were 154,000 homeless, with slightly less than half having served in South Vietnam.[10] 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.[11] The overall count in 2012 showed 62,619 homeless veterans in the United States.[12] In January 2013, there were an estimated 57,849 homeless veterans in the U.S., or 12% of the homeless population.[13] Just under 8% were female.[14] 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.[15] In 2015, a report issued by HUD counted over 47,000 homeless veterans nationwide, the majority of whom were White and male.[16] In 2016, there were over 39,000 homeless veterans nationwide.[17] 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.[18] 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:[19]

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.[22] Other such old soldiers' homes were built throughout the United States,[23] such as the one in New York.[24] These homes became the predecessors of the Veteran Affairs' medical facilities.[25]

Department of Veterans AffairsEdit

On November 3, 2009, United States Secretary Eric K. Shinseki spoke at the National Summit on Homeless Veterans and announced his plan.[undue weight? ]

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.[citation needed] The goal was to end veteran homelessness by 2015, but because of budget constraints that has now been pushed to 2017.[26] The plan focused on prevention of homelessness along with help for those living on the streets.[citation needed] The plan would expand mental health care and housing options for veterans, and would collaborate with:[27]

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.[28]

A study published in the American Journal of Addiction showed a link between veterans' trauma of mental disorders and their substance abuse.[29]


JROTC cadet from Wilson High School assists at a "Stand Down" event.

In addition to government provided aid, private charities provide assistance to homeless veterans as well.[30] These include providing some homeless veterans vehicles to live in,[31] and building permanent housing for others.[32] Advocating for the rights of homeless veterans through policy implementation and recommendations.[33] Throughout the nation, multiple organizations and agencies host "Stand Down" events where homeless veterans are provided items and services;[34] the first of these was held in San Diego, organized by Vietnam veterans, in 1988.[35]


  1. ^ Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration, Benefits Assistance. "Homeless Veterans - Veterans". Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  2. ^ Reeve Vanneman (1 March 2006). "Causes of homelessness". Sociology 498: Homelessness. University of Maryland. Archived from the original on 29 December 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ Kenneth L. Kusmer (2003). Down and Out, on the Road: The Homeless in American History. Oxford University Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0-19-516096-3.
    Patrick Markee (27 March 2003). "War and Homelessness" (PDF). Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  4. ^ Melissa Block (12 November 2007). "Homeless War Veterans Span U.S. History". NPR News. National Public Radio. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  5. ^ Labor Law Reporter. Commerce Clearing House. 1934.
  6. ^ Richard O. Davies (1966). Housing reform during the Truman administration. University of Missouri Press.
  7. ^ United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs (1987). Homelessness in America: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundredth Congress, First Session ... January 29, 1987. U.S. Government Printing Office.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ J.B. Wogan (10 October 2013). "How Michigan Got Better at Counting Homeless Veterans". Governing. e.Republic. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  9. ^ Judith Blau; Alberto Moncada (30 November 2015). Human Rights: A Primer. Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-317-25800-1.
  10. ^ Bruce S. Jansson (15 March 2010). Becoming an Effective Policy Advocate. Cengage Learning. p. 72. ISBN 0-495-81239-0.
  11. ^ Jamison Fargo; Stephen Metraux; Thomas Byrne; Ellen Munley; Ann Elizabeth Montgomery; Harlan Jones; George Sheldon; Dennis Culhane (August 2011). "Prevalence and Risk of Homelessness among U.S. Veterans: A Multisite Investigation" (PDF). National Center on Homelessness among Veterans. United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  12. ^ Alvaro Cortes; Meghan Henry; RJ de la Cruz; Scott Brown; Abt Associates (November 2013). "The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness" (PDF). Office of Community Planning and Development. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  13. ^ Meghan Henry; Dr. Alvaro Cortes; Sean Morris; Abt Associates (2013). "The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress" (PDF). Office of Community Planning and Development. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Lessons Learned from the U.S. Department of Labor Grantees: Homeless Female Veterans & Homeless Veterans with Families" (PDF). Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Syracuse University. October 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  15. ^ Holland, Gale (4 July 2014). "L.A. County's homeless population difficult to quantify". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  16. ^ Meghan Harvey; Azim Shivji; Tanya de Sousa; Rebecca Cohen; Abt Associates Inc. (November 2015). "The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress" (PDF). HUD Exchange. US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved 3 December 2016. EXHIBIT 5.3: Demographic Characteristics of Homeless Veterans
  17. ^ "2016 PIT Estimate of Homeless Veterans by State" (PDF). HUD Exchange. US Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  18. ^ "California Homelessness Statistics in 2017". U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
  19. ^ Bruce C. Brown (30 December 2013). "Assistance for Homeless Veterans". The Complete Guide to Veterans' Benefits: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply. Atlantic Publishing Company. pp. 227–236. ISBN 978-1-60138-702-8.
  20. ^ National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "An Examination of Waste and Abuse Associated with VA's Management of Land-Use Agreements". The American Legion. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  23. ^ James Marten (1 June 2011). Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America. UNC Press Books. pp. 171–173. ISBN 978-0-8078-7768-5.
  24. ^ William E. Roscoe (1882). 1713: History of Schoharie County, New York, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. D. Mason & Company. p. 447.
  25. ^ "VA History in Brief" (PDF). United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  26. ^ "Obama Administration Delays Deadline To End Chronic Homelessness Because Of Budget Constraints". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  27. ^ "Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki". Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. United States Department of Veterans Affairs. 3 November 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  28. ^ Kellan Howell (3 December 2014). "Despite first lady's vow to end veteran homelessness, VA fails miserably". Washington Times. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
    Lauren Gilger; Shawn Martin; Angie Holdsworth; Amanda Kost (11 December 2014). "VA ignoring homeless vets? Report finds hotline designed to help homeless vets often fails them". KNXV. Phoenix, Arizona. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  29. ^ Edens, Ellen L.; Rosenheck, Robert A.; Kasprow, Wes; Tsai, Jack (11 August 2011). "Association of substance use and VA service-connected disability benefits with risk of homelessness among veterans". The American Journal on Addictions. American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. 20 (5): 412–9. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2011.00166.x. PMID 21838839.
  30. ^ Marsha A. Martin (1 June 1997). Heading Home: Breaking the Cycle of Restlessness Among Americas Veterans, a Post-Summit Action Report and Resource Directory. DIANE Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7881-7696-8.
  31. ^ Lambert, Cynthia (30 November 2016). "RVs for Veterans has found 60 trailers for homeless veterans, but more are needed". The Tribune. San Luis Obispo, California. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  32. ^ Shepherd, Michael (27 April 2015). "Maine lawmakers back aid for homeless veterans' cabins at Togus". Morning Sentinel. Augusta, Maine. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
    Nesbitt, Rob (28 November 2016). "Campaign to build 300 cottages for homeless Veterans". WCSH. Swanville, Maine. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
    Magnarelli, Tom (15 November 2016). "3 more tiny homes for homeless veterans built in Syracuse". WRVO. Syracuse, New York. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
    Guilfoos, Kristen (16 November 2016). "Texas A&M students build tiny houses to help the homeless". KBTX. College Station, Texas. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  33. ^ Judith Allender; Judith Allender, RN, C, Msn, Edd; Cherie Rector; Cherie Rector, PhD, RN; C, Kristine Warner (26 April 2013). Community & Public Health Nursing: Promoting the Public’s Health. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 914. ISBN 978-1-4698-2665-3.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ Knicely, John (1 December 2016). "Veterans Stand Down helps hundreds of homeless vets, more help Friday". KIRO. Seattle, Washington. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
    Sausser, Lauren (2 December 2016). "Stand Down Against Homelessness draws smaller crowd this year". The Post and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
    McGhee, Tom (3 November 2016). "Denver, VA offer one-stop service events Thursday to help the homeless". Denver Post. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  35. ^ Thomas W. Miller (2012). The Praeger Handbook of Veterans' Health: History, Challenges, Issues, and Developments. ABC-CLIO. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-313-38349-6.