Serving Homeless Veterans 101 July 13, 2011 National Conference Ian B. Lisman Policy Analyst on Veterans Homelessness
Veterans Homelessness at a glance
PIT (Point In Time) Estimate: On a single night in January 2009 there were an estimated 75,609 homeless veterans—sheltered and unsheltered. More than 43,000 (57 percent) of the veterans were sleeping in emergency shelters or transitional housing and the remaining 32,000 (43 percent) were sleeping on the streets, in cars, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not meant for human habitation.
One-Year Estimate: An estimated 136,334 people self-identified as veterans and spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program in 2009. This is 1 in every 168 veterans throughout the United States or 1 in every 10 veterans living in poverty.
Demographics: Who they are.
Typical sheltered homeless veteran:
The typical sheltered homeless veteran has the following characteristics:
Male (93 percent),
White non-Hispanic/Latino (49 percent),
Between the ages of 31 and 50 (45 percent), and
Disabled (52 percent). ~ This is an underlying factor in chronic homelessness.
Too many veterans are homeless.
Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless population. Veterans constitute just under 8 % of the total U.S. population and, based on the PIT estimates, they account for 12% of the total homeless population (and 16% of homeless adults) on a given night. Their overrepresentation is reinforced by the one-year estimates. Approximately 10 percent of all people who experienced homelessness over the year identified themselves as veterans.
(1) an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has been continuously homeless for a year or more, OR
(2) an unaccompanied individual with a disabling condition who has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.”
Research suggests that due to the higher rates of disability among homeless veterans, chronic homelessness may be more prevalent. More research is needed.
What works for chronic homeless veterans?
Permanent Supportive Housing
The research is clear that permanent supportive housing using a Housing First approach is the primary solution. This intervention moves people off the street or out of temporary shelter into stable, affordable housing with supportive services to address mental health, substance abuse, health, and employment needs. The Housing First model assists participants to move quickly into permanent housing and provides intensive supportive services needed to achieve and maintain housing stability and improvements in overall condition.
Veterans experiencing homelessness have distinct characteristics that make it difficult to regain stability, however. They are more likely to be unsheltered and to experience homelessness for longer periods of time than non-Veterans. Veterans have high rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual assault, all of which increase the risk of homelessness. About half of Veterans experiencing homelessness have serious mental illness, half have a history with the criminal justice system, and nearly 70 percent have substance abuse disorders.
What works for homeless veterans?
Providing Affordable Housing
(Permanent Supportive Housing)
Increasing Opportunities for Meaningful and Sustainable Employment
Reducing Financial Vulnerability
Improving Homeless Crisis Response Systems
Rapid Re-Housing / Prevention. (SSVF)
200,000 (current conflicts)
OIF / OEF newly returning veterans.
Number of service members, current conflicts: (Worldwide) (as of Dec 31, 2010): 1,429,367
2009 AHAR - Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress
Opening Doors: Homelessness Among Veterans – U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Mark Walker – Deputy Director of Economic Division for the American Legion
Pete Dougherty – Associate Director, Sr. Policy Advisor of the Homeless Veterans Initiatives Office for the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Homelessness Among Veterans: A Critical Review of the Literature (April 2011) Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration Health Services Research & Development Service.
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