Homelessness among veterans is down 11 percent since 2020, and has been more than halved since 2010.
Homeless people surveyed on a single night in January included 33,136 veterans, down from 37,252 in January 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies announced.
Data gathered from that type of “point-in-time” survey has its limitations, but officials are taking it as a sign that their efforts to stem veterans homelessness are paying off.
“Not only did we lower the number of veterans experiencing homelessness, but we made this progress during a global pandemic and economic crisis,” said Jeff Olivet, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
“This proves that, even under the most difficult circumstances, we can take care of each other and address homelessness,” he added.
The data suggests a 55.3 percent drop in veteran homelessness since 2010, when then-President Barack Obama set a goal to completely eradicate it by 2015. Homeless veterans numbered 76,329 in that year’s count, according to a VA report.
David Higgins, a spokesman for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, told Military.com the group is “pleased to see the return of double-digit” gains against veteran homelessness, but highlighted particularly vulnerable veterans in the data.
“Looking deeper, we see that 13,564 veterans experienced unsheltered homelessness, meaning these veterans live in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, and literally on the street, which is clearly unacceptable,” Higgins wrote to Military.com.
The federal government uses a “housing first” approach that puts veterans in housing before providing them with health care, job training, and other assistance to help them stay housed, according to the announcement.
This year’s count of homeless veterans did not take into account that nearly 31,000 were placed into permanent housing through September, putting the VA ahead of a self-imposed goal to rehouse 38,000 in 2022, according to the announcement.
Demographic and geographic trends in veteran homelessness are expected to be revealed in data set to be released by the end of the year, Military.com reported.