Today, our Vice President of Programs and Policy Steve Berg went up to the Hill to attend a joint hearing including the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. The joint hearing examined the nation’s progress in ending veterans homelessness.
Currently, there are about 131,000 veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States, representing about one-fifth of the entire homeless population on any given night. Veterans often experience homeless as a result of post-war distress, including emotional or physical trauma which can manifest in diseases, including substance abuse and addiction.
In our last Veterans Update, we presented the challenges to women veterans as a new emerging component of this issue. As women continue to make up a greater percentage of the armed forces, we take greater note of their particular vulnerability to and experience with homelessness. There is also a growing body of evidence that indicates that female veterans have a higher risk of homelessness as compared to their male counterparts – some speculate that this may have to do with a greater incidence of sever housing cost burden, lower incomes, higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, among others contributors.
In recent months, both Secretary Shinseki of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and President Obama have come out strongly with intentions to reduce and end veterans homelessness in the United States. Secretary Shinseki has publicly announced the VA’s intent to end veterans homelessness in five years; in his proposed fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, President Obama includes a 50 percent increase in funding for veterans homelessness programs.
We at the Alliance are hoping that this surge in support – evidenced by the hearing, the budget, the announcements coming out of the VA – are an indication that there will be real political support to end homelessness among our nation’s veterans. We look forward to working with both Congressional leaders and the Administration to ensure that those who have offered themselves in the service of the country will never face homelessness. Because, as Secretary Shinseki says in his video address on the issue, “there’s still no reason why a single veteran is living on the streets of our country.”
Well said, Mr. Secretary.