A new report on veteran homelessness

If you are a frequent reader of our blog, our interest in issues concerning homeless veterans is no surprise. Since we started communicating this way in 2009, we have shared a variety of posts on the topic. In case you missed them, here are the posts on remembering Veteran’s Day, recognizing homeless female veterans, strategies to strengthen relationships with the VA, and federal budget dollars.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) released Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. We thought you’d be interested in this collaborative effort between HUD and the VA, which aims to help the general public better understand the extent and nature of homelessness among veterans in the U.S.  The report also “advances the goals of the nation’s federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness (Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness) through the collection, analysis, and reporting of quality, timely data on homelessness.”

Here are some of the major report findings we think are very interesting:

  • Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness Among Veterans:
    • On a single night in January 2009, 75,609 veterans were homeless; 57 percent were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program; and the remaining 43 percent were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation (i.e., unsheltered).
    • Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless population. At a point in time in 2009, approximately 12 percent of all people (and 16 percent of adults) experiencing homelessness identified as a veteran, as did 10 percent of those homeless over the course of a year.
  • One-Year Estimates of Sheltered Homelessness Among Veterans:
    • An estimated 136,334 veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. This accounts for 1 of every 168 veterans in the U.S. or 1 out of every 10 veterans living in poverty.
    • While homeless veterans make up less than 1 percent of all veterans, within the poverty population veterans are at greater risk of homelessness than non-veterans.
    • Ten percent of veterans in poverty became homeless at some point during the year, compared to just over 5 percent of adults in poverty.
  • Characteristics of Sheltered Homeless Veterans:
    • Homeless veterans are most often white men, between the ages of 31 and 50 years, with a disability, and alone in shelter.
    • The small number of sheltered homeless veterans in families typically are younger, minority women and less likely to have a disability.
  • Veterans with High Risk of Becoming Homeless:
    • Rates of homelessness among veterans living in poverty are particularly high for veterans identifying as Hispanic/Latino (1 in 4) or African American (1 in 4).
    • Two groups of homeless veterans—women and people between age 18 and 30—are small in number. However, female veterans and young veterans are at high risk of becoming homeless, and both groups are growing within the overall veteran population.
  • Location of Homeless Veterans:
    • Similar to the overall homeless population, almost half of homeless veterans on a given night were located in four states: California, Florida, Texas, and New York.
  • Prior Living Arrangement and Patterns of Shelter Use:
    • Most sheltered veterans entered shelter or transitional housing from another homeless situation.
    • Veterans who were alone had a median length of stay of 21 days in emergency shelter and 117 days in transitional housing.

We find the results very sobering, and we trust you do too. We want to know what you think! Was there anything in the report that you found surprising, or something you didn’t know before? Please feel free to comment in the section below!