Veteran homelessness slashed by half in six years

The number of homeless veterans in the United States has been reduced by 47 percent since 2010. Data indicates an overall decline of 17 percent in veteran homelessness in 2015 alone. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual estimate, there were under 40,000 homeless veterans on a given night in January.

“We’ve helped bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets, but we’re not slowing down,” President Barack Obama said while addressing the Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta on August 1. “We will not stop until every veteran who fought for America has a home in America.”

The White House attributed the progress in reducing veteran homelessness to the launch of Opening Doors in 2010, the government’s first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end veteran homelessness. Another fruitful initiative has been the partnership between the HUD and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). HUD provides rental assistance to homeless veterans while the VA offers clinical services and case management through their Supportive Housing program. Since 2010, more than 360,000 veterans and their families have received housing.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness has also contributed. She launched the nationwide campaign in 2014. Over 880 mayors, governors and other local officials were tasked with committing to the goal of ending veteran homelessness in their communities. White House officials said Houston and New Orleans managed to end chronic veteran homelessness in 2015.

Although the Obama administration originally vowed to end chronic veteran homelessness this year, it decided to extend the deadline to 2017 due to budgetary reasons. Veterans’ advocates are optimistic about the progress so far. However, there is still a long way to go when it comes to ensuring veterans nationwide are kept off the streets with permanent housing.

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