Veteran Homelessness Cut in Half
“We put policies in place to help students with loans; protect consumers from fraud; and cut veteran homelessness almost in half.”
‑-President Barack Obama
President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia generated a lot of buzz among communities and advocates working to prevent and end homelessness. Among his points was a new fact, recently released from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): the number of homeless veterans dropped by 47 percent since 2010.
This accomplishment is the result of a national commitment to ending homelessness among all Americans, and the hard work of many organizations and communities. Abt Associates has been collaborating with HUD, the Department of Veterans Affairs, local communities and partners across the nation to help improve local homeless assistance systems, as well as collect the information needed to understand homelessness, including among veterans and other vulnerable groups.
Mary Joel Holin, division vice president for Social and Economic Policy said, “For more than a decade, Abt has provided significant support to national and local efforts to end homelessness among veterans and all people. Our staff spearheaded a national effort to implement data information systems across the country, supported an array of technical assistance initiatives to improve system and program performance, and compiled and analyzed data for reporting to the U.S. Congress. Our efforts demonstrate how to leverage our technical assistance capacities with our research expertise to solve a national problem.”
Abt has led the data collection, analysis, and reporting of estimates of homelessness through HUD’s Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR). The report, released in two parts, includes estimates of homelessness at a single point-in-time each year as well as estimates of sheltered homelessness over the course of the year. In 2009, communities began reporting data on the number of homeless veterans across the country. Since that time, data on veteran homelessness has improved considerably, and these data have been used to design and target programs for homeless veterans across the country.
Abt provides technical assistance to communities to prevent and end homelessness through various HUD and VA technical assistance initiatives. In partnership with the Technical Assistance Collaborative, Abt helps train and support over 400 grantees who administer the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. SSVF provides rapid re-housing assistance for homeless veterans and prevention assistance for veterans at-risk of homelessness. In 2015, SSVF programs helped over 69,000 homeless Veterans quickly find housing to end their homelessness.
Through HUD, Abt also provides technical assistance to over 30 communities working to end homelessness among veterans. In communities as diverse as New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, and in the states of Texas, North Carolina, and Minnesota, Abt is helping communities develop comprehensive systems and technology solutions to preventing and ending homelessness.
Yet what this assistance means in real terms to homeless veterans and their families is more dramatic.
One homeless veteran father from Georgia was living out of his car with his two daughters. A local SSVF program was able to help him find a job and a home. Rapid re-housing assistance through SSVF made it possible for the veteran to cover his moving costs, rental deposits and utility charges – and quickly end his family’s homelessness. The program used wraparound support services to help the family through the crisis, including connections to the family with after school care and summer programming for the veteran’s young daughters. Now the family has a home and is doing well.
Another veteran with 12 years of service lost her home to foreclosure. She and her two children were living in a Memphis motel. She contacted a local agency and they connected her with SSVF, which in turn helped her find an apartment and provided assistance with her rental deposit. Now the veteran has a job, stable housing and her children are back in school.
“Ultimately, says Associate Meghan Henry, AHAR Project Director, “HUD’s latest numbers show that we have made significant progress in ending veteran homelessness.”
Read the 2015 AHAR findings.
See the latest 2016 Point in Time estimates on veterans’ homelessness.