Last month, the Obama administration announced that the number of homeless veterans in the United States has dropped 33 percent from 2010 figures. According to the Huffington Post, the White House has committed to ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.
The key principle behind the push is “Housing First” — the notion that veterans need stable housing in order to make progress on other issues. In order to move forward, a number of federal agencies have collaborated to identify, target and serve the most vulnerable veterans.
Now, local governments are joining the effort. Earlier this summer, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, together with Michelle Obama, issued the Mayor’s Challenge. The program asks mayors to join the White House by pledging to end veteran homelessness in their own cities by 2015.
In Michigan, mayors from Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Highland Park, Lansing and Southfield have joined.
Still, challenges remain. Recently, NPR reported that homelessness is currently rising for female veterans, who are disproportionately affected by issues such as unemployment and past sexual assault. In addition, many women have children that they support — meaning that if they lose their housing, so does the rest of their family.
The effort to end veteran homelessness is part of a larger initiative by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. In 2010, the Council developed and presented a comprehensive plan that, by 2020, would end chronic homelessness as well as homelessness among veterans, families, children and youth.
A fact sheet from the Council recognized the specific problem of rising homelessness among female veterans, while also asserting that PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other physical and mental health issues create higher risk for homelessness.
While not everyone believes that the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 is achievable, most experts are encouraged by the progress and continued momentum.
According to the Midland Daily News, Michigan counties received more than $10 million last month in grants for the prevention of veteran homelessness.
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC fights for veterans rights. We fight to make sure you get the benefits you deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more or contact a veterans lawyer, visit http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com/ or call 800.693.4800