Every January, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development leads a national census of Americans, including Veterans who are homeless. This annual enumeration, known as the Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, provides the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with a nationwide snapshot of Veteran homelessness on a single night. The results can then be compared from year to year.
This year, we are pleased to announce a national decline in Veteran homelessness. We believe this decline is a result of our collaborations with HUD, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and other federal, state, and local partners. Together we have made significant progress since the 2010 launch of the first-ever strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
The most recent PIT Count shows that an estimated 37,881 Veterans were homeless on a single night in January 2018 — 5.4 percent fewer than in 2017 and nearly half the number reported in 2010, when the VA launched its strategic plan. HUD estimates that 23,312 of the 37,881 Veterans counted in January 2018 were in sheltered settings, and 14,566 were living without any shelter.
VA recently released the video above that illustrates how we use data to improve outcomes for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The video highlights several comprehensive tools developed by the VA Homeless Programs Office (HPO) that enable VA providers to better serve and care for homeless and at-risk Veterans. These tools are used by HPO staff to collect and record data about the needs of individual Veterans and about resources available to help meet those needs. With ready access to these data, providers are better equipped to connect Veterans with the specific support and services they need, including permanent or transitional housing, substance use treatment, and access to community resources.
At the community level, several tools are used to assess progress in ending Veteran homelessness throughout the year. VA is committed to working alongside local leaders who have responded to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and are recommitting their communities to achieve this goal. Three states — Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia — and 64 communities have ended homelessness among Veterans, meaning that they have identified all homeless Veterans by name and have systems in place to put each homeless Veteran on a path towards finding permanent housing. Those systems also ensure that if a formerly homeless Veteran experiences homelessness again, that episode will be temporary.
We could not have achieved these milestones without the dedication of our grantees and partners. The VA continue to move in the right direction towards achieving our goal of ending Veteran homelessness nationwide, and we value the public’s continued support of this important mission.
- Visit VA’s website to learn about employment initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.
- Refer Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless to their local VA medical center, where VA staff are ready to assist, or urge them to call
About the Author: Dr. Richard Stone is the executive in charge of VA’s Veterans Health Administration. He oversees the delivery of care to more than 9 million Veterans who are enrolled in VA healthcare.