Nov 09, 2011
Veteran Homelessness and What Every Community Can Do to Solve It
Combat ought to be the most difficult experience of a veteran’s life, but our new report on veteran homelessness reveals that many veterans go on to become homeless for eight or nine times the length of their deployments.
Since our Campaign began, more than 2500 volunteers have conducted over 23,000 surveys with homeless people in 47 communities across the country. The resulting data shows that veterans tend to be homeless longer than non-veterans. In fact, homeless veterans reported an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years among their non-veteran peers. Among those who said they had been homeless for two years or more, homeless veterans reported an average of nearly nine years homeless, compared to over seven for non-veterans. A veteran’s age accounted for only part of this disparity.
Length of homelessness matters because the longer people spend on the streets, the more health risks they tend to develop. Among the 62% of homeless veterans who reported two or more years of homelessness, over 61% reported a serious physical health condition, 55% reported a mental health condition, 76% reported a substance abuse habit, and 32% reported all three.
As a group, veterans were 11 percentage points more likely to suffer from at least one condition linked to increased risk of death among the homeless population, which means the men and women who risked their lives defending America may be far more likely to die on its streets.
It doesn't have to be this way.
This year, we partnered with Home for Good, GOOD Magazine, and Aguiniga Design to develop a new community tool-- housing placement boot camp-- to help communities reduce the number of steps and length of time it takes to house a homeless veteran. Already, test runs in Los Angeles and New York City have shaved an average of 64 days off the process, and both communities are reporting new reductions each month. (Kudos to United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Corporation for Supportive Housing for helping to implement these changes!)
This week, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness blogged about housing placement boot camp and listed the top nine things every community can do to speed up the housing process for homeless veterans. As the President and Congress work to provide the federal resources necessary to end veteran homelessness by 2014, these nine things are practical steps that every community can take to hasten implementation on the ground and house homeless veterans quickly.
If your community hasn't held a boot camp event, get in touch with Linda Kaufman (Eastern US) or Becky Kanis (Western US) to find out how to get started. If we work together, we can end veteran homelessness once and for all.