Agencies Hail Progress Toward Goal of Ending Veterans Homelessness
HUD, VA and interagency council report 50 percent drop after five years.
One of the Obama administration’s longtime strategic goals has been the multi-agency effort to end homelessness among veterans.
Timed with President Obama’s speech to a disabled veterans group in Atlanta on Aug. 1, the Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs departments joined with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to announce that the number of homeless veterans had been cut in half since 2010.
The new data included a 17 percent drop from January 2015 to January 2016—four times the previous annual decline.
Beginning in 2014, HUD and the VA made finding housing for all veterans a strategic goal, and in the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget, the White House set as a cross-agency priority goal the broader objective of improving mental health services for vets, which looped in the Health and Human Services and Defense Departments.
As of January, HUD’s canvassing data showed there were fewer than 40,000 homeless veterans on any given night nationwide, some 13,000 of which were living on the streets, a 56 percent drop since 2010.
The effort requires cooperation with local authorities. In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. More than 880 mayors, governors, and other local officials have joined, and 27 communities and two states have effectively ended veteran homelessness, the White House said in a release.
“We have an absolute duty to ensure those who've worn our nation's uniform have a place to call home," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. "While we've made remarkable progress toward ending veteran homelessness, we still have work to do to make certain we answer the call of our veterans just as they answered the call of our nation."
VA Secretary Bob McDonald added, "The dramatic decline in Veteran homelessness reflects the power of partnerships in solving complex national problems on behalf of those who have served our nation. The men and women who have fought for this nation should not have to fight to keep a roof over their head, and I'm pleased that VA is serving more Veterans than ever before with heath care, education, job training and wraparound supportive services."
Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. interagency council, said, "Together, we are proving that it is possible to solve one of the most complex challenges our country faces. This progress should give us confidence that when we find new ways to work together and when we set bold goals and hold ourselves accountable, nothing is unsolvable."
The new results are not yet posed on the performance.gov website, which is updated quarterly.
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