Counting every Veteran on the way to ending homelessness


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This week, I am joining volunteers across the country to measure the scope of homelessness in America during the point-in-time (PIT) count.

The PIT counts being performed across the country will provide us with a critical benchmark for knowing how much progress we’ve made so far, but we know we have to continue to push forward urgently to achieve this goal.

The current PIT count shows that VA is making progress toward our goal of ending homelessness among Veterans. On a given night in January 2014, an estimated 49,993 Veterans were without a safe, stable home in the United States – 17,885 homeless Veterans living on the street or other places not meant for human habitation and 32,048 in shelters, transitional housing programs or safe havens. This represents a 33 percent decline in the total number of homeless Veterans since 2010, and includes a nearly 43 percent reduction in Veterans living on the street.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson participated in the point-in-time homeless count in Baltimore on Sunday, January 25. VA photo by Robert Turtil

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson participated in the point-in-time homeless count in Baltimore on Sunday, January 25. VA photo by Robert Turtil

Veterans who lived for decades on the street, in cars, abandoned buildings, and other unsuitable places now live in safe, stable homes of their own. I credit this success to the hard work of dedicated VA employees and thousands of partners, inside and outside of government.

Strong collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (which leads the PIT count nationwide), the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and countless other organizations resulted in the adoption of evidence-based practices such as Housing First and rapid re-housing that have dramatically reduced the number of Veterans who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. By leveraging the expertise of local homeless service providers through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, organizations with the know-how, management infrastructure and commitment to serving Veterans are helping thousands to remain housed or get quickly re-housed if they fall into homelessness. In FY 2014 alone, more than 260,000 homeless or at-risk Veterans were served by VA specialized homeless programs. Over 72,000 Veterans and their family members were placed in permanent housing or were prevented from becoming homeless.

We have a lot of work left to do, and it will require extraordinary effort and leadership both federally and locally – that’s why I am so heartened that over 440 mayors, governors, county executives and other local officials have joined us and committed to ending veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of this year. Ultimately, ending Veteran homelessness will be achieved when the annual PIT count estimates that there are zero Veterans who are unsheltered and no more than 12,500 Veterans, at any time, who are on the pathway to permanent housing. The 2015 PIT count will measure our progress in reducing Veteran homelessness during 2014; the 2016 PIT count will tell us whether we have met our goal ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.

Together, we can end homelessness among Veterans, but we need everyone to get involved and join us in this mission. As a first step, join me in volunteering for this year’s PIT Count by contacting your local HUD Continuum of Care. If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, please refer him or her to a local VA Medical Center, where our homeless coordinators are ready to help.

Overnight January 25-26, 2015, the annual point-in-time homeless count was held in Baltimore. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Baltimore City officials participated in this year's count. VA photos by Robert Turtil.

Overnight January 25-26, 2015, the annual point-in-time homeless count was held in Baltimore. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Baltimore City officials participated in this year’s count. VA photos by Robert Turtil.

 

Author

Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald was the eighth Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Comments

  1. Danny    

    How many other executives in ANY gov’t entity do you see “stooping” to this level? NONE! Whether you like him or not, I think even the worst critic would have to admit that Secretary McDonald is trying, & is not afraid to get his hands dirty while helping his brothers & sisters!

  2. Danny    

    Any honorably discharged veteran receiving care at the VETERANS Administration should stop by or call DAV.

  3. K. Parnell    

    If I haven’t been counted, does that mean I don’t count?

    1. Danny    

      Dear K. Parnell, please explain.

  4. Antonio Martinez    

    Am a post Vietnam veteran. Being treaty for several health problems, including PTSD and some other mental health issues. I was living in homeless shelter in another state. Move to NJ to be closer to family, but…fell apart. Living on SSD, it is not enough for this East Coast to survive on it. I am about to become homeless again. Due to my health problems not one will hire me. Have tried for the last four years. Could any one advise me ?

  5. ARNOLD CABRAL    

    I do believe that if a VETERAN REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE HOMELESS THAN THE VETERAN SHOULD GET A PLACE TO STAY but at the same time their HOMELESS VETERANS BECAUSE THEY ARE VETERANS IS GOT CHRONIC ADDITION they JUST DON’T WANT TO CHANGE……SO WHO IS READING THIS PLEASE REPLY BACK TO TELL ME WHAT THEY THING…………….MY NAME IS ARNOLD CABRAL……………MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS arnieandcaroline13@cableone.net

    1. Danny    

      Mr. Cabral you are totally correct! My wife’s ex CHOSE to live on the river banks, and he used to brag about burning $50 bills to start a fire. Some people just want to live like that.

  6. Leonard Brown    

    Just a quick comment. I am very happy for Secretary McDonalds success to this point. However other VAMC’s are still subpar. For instance in Houston. Debakey is one of the worst in the country. Please excuse my candor I think truth is best in this situation. Also although the weather is a bit milder in this part of the country homeless veterans here need coats and supplies here also. Thank you.

  7. Patricia    

    I would like to volunteer to work on this project. Would you direct me to the appropriate area to do this. I live in the metropolitan NYC area.

    Thank you.

  8. Douglas Stephen    

    I would like to volunteer. I have (25+) years in the Commercial/Residential Construction. This is what I was looking for. Please let me know if I might be accepted?

    email: d.stephen@cox.net

  9. Timothy Doerner    

    As a Veteran, I deeply feel that we are a part of every Veteran Lives. No Veteran should ever be homeless. If we all could do just one thing to help end Homless Veterans there would be no such thing as a homeless Veteran. With the help of all Veterabns we could end Homelessness this year!

  10. Mark Steven Moomey    

    There are some homelessness veterans in my home town. Who would need the help from the V.A. Please come here to look all so. Thank you. Mr. Mark Steven Moomey 01/28/15

Comments are closed.