You can find the official report on our website, and check out our (very first!) social media release on the report, complete with links to the older reports, a video explaining data, and a couple of pictures, too!
So what does the report say?
Well, the headliner is the number: 131,000 homeless veterans on a given night in the United States. At first glance, that’s good news – last year the number was 154,000. But the decrease is being mostly attributed to methodology, and not an increase in effective programs, prevention, or intervention. In fact, community counts of homeless veterans as well as the numbers kept by VA medical center of homeless veterans served both show increases.
The report also highlights some interesting demographic data: as we’ve all seen in news coverage of veterans, we’re seeing an increase in homeless women veterans, as well as difficulties in handling the specific needs of the female homeless veteran population. And here’s something else I learned yesterday: The veteran population is 85 percent Caucasian and 10 percent African American. The homeless veteran population is 46 percent Caucasian and 45 percent African American. The other races and ethnic groups that make up the rest of the population – around ten percent – show marginal difference between the veterans and homeless veterans groups, but not enough of a different to make a whole lot of hay. It’s the black/white number that really stands out.
So what are we going to do about it?
There’s good news and there’s – challenging – news. The good news is that we have the tools and resources to fight veterans homelessness. The Alliance staff here has spent weeks and weeks preparing for the release of this report and I have learned in that time that we know how to end veterans homelessness. Also good: Secretary Shinseki and the Administration have publicly committed to ending veterans homelessness in five years – in fact, they just hosted a big national summit addressing just this very issue.
But (and this is the challenging part), as with all things, ending veterans homelessness is going to take more than just talk. Veterans make up roughly one-fifth of the entire homeless population, and homeless veterans tend to have emotional, behavioral and physical disabilities.
But we have to start somewhere. And this is what the Alliance recommends up front:
In an address he gave on April 9 of this year, President Obama assured American soldiers that, “When you come home to America, America will be there for you.”
Let’s make good on our promise.