In 2008, The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program teamed up with The Department of Housing and Urban Development – VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) to end homelessness for America’s veterans—and their efforts to date are having a big impact. The team has worked together to help pull the veteran homeless rate down 17.2 percent since 2009. Still, one night in January 2012 saw 62,619 veterans who were homeless, a trend that continues to persist throughout the year..
“Those who have served this nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the street, living without care and hope,” says VA President Eric Shinseki. More than 48,000 housing vouchers have been awarded to veterans since 2008, with 10,000 awarded in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. With the help from HUD-VASH initiatives, these HCV awards, spanning across all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Guam, are helping to achieve a goal set by President Obama and Shinseki, which aims to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Says Shinseki, these veterans are “one paycheck, one mortgage payment, one more missed utility bill away from being evicted.”
One government study dealing with veteran homelessness points out that veterans are 50% more likely to be homeless. Many veterans returning from duty are disabled or suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress-Syndrome (PTSD), making it difficult for them to hold a job. This can lead to mental illness and substance abuse problems that, coupled with the current economic environment, put many veterans on the path to homelessness.
And the HCV program is there to lend a helping hand. The program gives these veterans the affordable housing they so desperately need while the VA offers them clinical and supportive services through its healthcare system. Eligibility requirements state that veterans must be able to live independently in the community, so while they may be disabled or suffer from mental health conditions, they’re still guaranteed to become active members of a community and help it thrive.
But homeless veterans still make up 10% of America’s homeless population. The HCV program’s continuing efforts are therefore critical to continue to combat the homelessness of America’s heroes.
Says Shinseki, “If you don’t stop this faucet, you never end homelessness.”