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Administration Touts Decrease in Homeless Veterans

A homeless Veteran in New York. Despite a survey that found a decrease in homeless Veterans, 67,000 Veterans still have no place to call home.: Photo by JM Suarez.

Despite a stagnant economy and high unemployment rate, a new study reveals that the number of homeless Veterans has decreased by nearly 12 percent.

Optimism in the Battle Against Veteran Homelessness

According to the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless Veterans on any given night dropped from 76,329 in January 2010 to 67,495 in January 2011.

“We’re absolutely headed in the right direction as we work to end homelessness amongst those who have served our nation,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement.

The survey’s numbers are based on actual counts of homeless Veterans in about 3,000 communities. According to other VA estimates, there are 100,000 homeless Veterans on any given night – VA counts Veterans residing in emergency and transitional shelters as homeless.

Who deserves credit for the decrease?

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stated that these new numbers show that the Obama administration is on its way toward meeting its goal of ending Veteran homelessness by 2015.

Shinseki and Donovan gave VA and HUD programs credit for the new numbers. The VA has granted funding to various charities and organizations that focus on providing housing for Veterans. According to the administration, VA and HUD – along with community agencies – have housed 33,597 Veterans since 2009.

VA also took the opportunity to announce an additional $100 million in grants for VA’s Supportive Services for Veterans Families for 2012.

One Homeless Veteran is Too Many

While any reduction in the number of homeless Veterans should be applauded, even one homeless Veteran is one too many.

This is a sentiment Shinseki shares.

“Our progress in the fight against homelessness has been significant, but our work is not complete until no Veteran has to sleep on the street.”

The fact that there will soon be an influx of soldiers returning from Iraq could only complicate the problem, particularly when the unemployment rate among young Veterans is taken into account.

While providing housing is crucial in getting Veterans off the streets, it is also necessary that the other factors that contribute to homelessness are taken into account as well – namely mental disorders, substance abuse and unemployment.

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