According to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, on a single night in 2014 there were 49,933 homeless Veterans. The homeless Veterans make up 11 percent of the 442,723 homeless adults at the time. While the number of homeless Veterans may seem high, it is a vast improvement from the 74,050 Veterans which were found to be homeless in 2009. The image below shows the estimates of homeless Veterans by state in 2014.
Estimates of Homeless Veterans by State (2014)
Of the 49,933 Veterans which were found to be homeless, 38,985 people or 96 percent were found to be alone (without family members). 1,708 veterans, or 4 percent, were homeless as members of families with children.
Homeless Veterans were found to be living in unsheltered locations 36 percent of the time which is the same percentage as the non-Veteran homeless population. Females Veterans accounted for 10 percent of both the unsheltered and sheltered homeless population.
On a Single Night in 2014
California had the largest number of veterans experiencing homelessness (12,096). Homeless veterans in California represented almost a quarter of the national homeless veteran population, or 24 percent. Three other states had at least 2,000 homeless veterans: FL (4,552 or 9% of the national homeless veteran population), TX (2,718 or 5%), and NY (2,542 or 5%). The highest and lowest rates of unsheltered Veterans are shown in the image below.
Highest and Lowest Rates of Unsheltered Veterans by State (2014)
Nationally, 11 percent of homeless adults were veterans, but the proportion varied by state. In South Dakota and Wyoming, the total number of homeless veterans was small (132 and 116 homeless veterans, respectively), but the proportion of homeless adults who were veterans was among the highest in the nation (21% and 20%, respectively). New York contained the fourth largest number of homeless veterans in the nation, but only five percent of homeless adults in the state were veterans.
In most states, homeless veterans were typically found in shelters. However, in five states, the majority of homeless veterans were living in unsheltered locations: MT (63%), CA (63%), NV (60%), HI (58%), and GA (55%).
In sixteen states and the D.C., fewer than 10 percent of homeless veterans were unsheltered. This includes Alaska and Rhode Island, both of which reported that all homeless veterans were living in shelters.
Veteran homelessness dropped by 10 percent between 2013 and 2014, or 5,846 fewer homeless veterans. This was the steepest decline since veteran homelessness fell by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Both the sheltered and unsheltered veteran populations experienced declines between 2013 and 2014. The number of sheltered veterans fell by 2,861 people, or 8 percent, and the number of unsheltered veterans fell by 2,985 people, or 14 percent.
Homelessness among veterans has declined considerably since these data were first collected in 2009 and has declined each year since 2010. Over the span of five years, veteran homelessness has fallen by 33 percent, with 24,117 fewer homeless veterans in 2014 than in 2009. The largest increases and decreases of homeless Veterans are shown in the image below spanning the years 2013-2014 and also 2009-2014.
Largest Changes in Veteran Homelessness by State (2009-2014)
Ending Veteran Homelessness
We as a Nation still have a lot of work ahead of us to eliminate Veteran homelessness. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has stated that they are committed to ending homelessness among Veterans. There focus is threefold:
- Conducting coordinated outreach to proactively seek out Veterans in need of assistance.
- Connecting homeless and at-risk Veterans with housing solutions, health care, community employment services and other required supports.
- Collaborating with federal, state and local agencies; employers; housing providers faith-based and community nonprofits; and others to expand employment and affordable housing options for Veterans exiting homelessness.
Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless can call or visit local VA Medical Center, where homeless coordinators are ready to help. Veterans and their families may also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) to access VA services.
Many organizations are stepping up to the plate to help end Veteran Homelessness. Some were started by Veterans such as the Vet Hunters Project which was started by U.S. Army Veteran Joe Leal. We as Veterans need to do all we can to take care of our Brothers and Sisters and that may as simple as a more proactive approach at the local level to help identify homeless Veterans and get them to the services that they need to improve their situation.
If you know of an organization that is doing work to help end Veteran homelessness, please leave their information in the comments.