49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night in the U.S.
1.4 million are at risk of homelessness.
In the U.S., the failure of the Department of Veteran Affairs to address homelessness among vets has received national attention.
First Lady, Michelle Obama, has called veteran homelessness a “stain on the soul of this nation.”
In 2014, she launched the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, asking for mayors to make a commitment to end veteran homelessness in their cities.
In February 2015, NYC’s Mayor DeBlasio answered the challenge by spearheading efforts to place 1,000 homeless veterans living in city shelters into permanent homes. An intake center for homeless men specifically catering to veterans was opened and the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs committed to prioritizing veterans and their families in residence placement.
One idea is that community-based solutions with a focus on “veterans helping veterans” work best.
Urban Pathways, a NYC-based non-profit, has had success in placing homeless vets in permanent housing. They recently opened a building in the South Bronx, the Boston Road Veterans Residence, which will house 43 veterans.
The support networks present in veteran-only housing could be the key to understanding why veterans fare better in these types of programs. They connect the dots on all the support mechanisms veterans need to live healthy and independent lives (e.g. housing, employment, access to mental health services).
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans:
“Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment. Additionally, veterans need job assessment, training, and placement assistance.”
Obtaining and sustaining employment is cited by the NCHV as the factor that contributes most significantly to success.
Moral outrage is not enough in helping vets off the street and into the homes they deserve.