The 2022 single-day count of American homelessness was the biggest drop in over five years – but work still needs done. In Jan., HUD identified 33,136 homeless vets.
WASHINGTON – The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) announced preliminary results for the 2022 Point-in-Time Count (PIT) – an 11% decline in veteran homelessness since early 2020, the last time a full count was conducted. It’s the biggest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years.
To gauge homelessness in America, the government conducts a massive one-day nationwide survey in January, though the count wasn’t done in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.
According to the latest count in January 2022, 33,136 U.S. veterans were homeless in the United States – down from 37,252 in 2020 – a 55.3% reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness since 2010.
“The data released today shows we are closer than ever in ensuring that every veteran in America has a home and challenges us to ensure that every veteran – and every person in America – has a home,” says HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge.
“One veteran experiencing homelessness will always be one too many, but the 2022 PIT Count shows that we are making real progress in the fight to end veteran homelessness,” adds VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “There is still a long way to go, but under President Biden’s leadership, we at VA, HUD and USICH will not stop until every veteran has a good, safe, stable home in this country they fought to defend.”
The 2022 PIT Count is the first one since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2021, many communities did not conduct unsheltered counts (counts of veterans in emergency shelters and transitional housing) in order to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. But that resulted in an incomplete picture of veteran homelessness in America in this year.
“Not only did we lower the number of veterans experiencing homelessness, but we made this progress during a global pandemic and economic crisis,” says USICH Executive Director Jeff Olivet. “This proves that, even under the most difficult circumstances, we can take care of each other and address homelessness.”
Since the 2022 PIT count was taken, the government has introduced new programs that it hopes will further reduce veteran homelessness, including VA’s goal to re-house 38,000 veterans in 2022. Through September, VA says it has placed nearly 31,000 homeless veterans into permanent housing, it on track to meet or exceed its goal.
HUD, VA, and USICH use the “Housing First” approach, which prioritizes getting a veteran into housing and then providing the support they need to stay housed, including health care, job training, legal and education assistance, and more. “Housing First” is a newer concept though with a proven track record. In the past, counseling and other services often came first, but putting veterans into a home first appears to make it more likely they won’t again end up on the streets.
With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, VA’s homeless programs received $481 million in additional funding to support veterans – including funding to expand the Shallow Subsidy Initiative, expand the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program, address legal barriers to housing, transform congregate transitional housing spaces into individual rooms with bathrooms, and more. Overall, the American Rescue Plan provided more than $5 billion to assist individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as more than $40 billion for housing provisions nationwide.
If you know a veteran experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) or visit the VA Homeless Programs website to learn about housing initiatives and other programs.
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