Ending veteran homelessness: How cities around the US are doing
By MARTIN KUZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 29, 2015
Since 2010, when President Barack Obama launched a five-year national campaign to end homelessness among veterans, the number of former servicemembers living on the streets has dropped from over 76,000 to below 50,000. In early January, officials in New Orleans declared that their city was the country’s first to find permanent housing for all of its homeless veterans, who numbered 227 at the start of last year. Here’s a look at efforts in a handful of other U.S. cities, based on figures provided by federal, state and local agencies.
The city’s population of homeless veterans fell by almost two-thirds between 2011 and 2014, with 3,032 former servicemembers placed in permanent housing. Several housing projects are underway across the city as officials seek to place the remaining 1,300 homeless veterans.
The city found housing for 2,800 homeless veterans from 2012 to 2014, reducing Houston’s overall homeless population by almost 40 percent. Among the remaining 681 homeless veterans who were counted in a survey in January 2014, more than half were in the process of receiving housing by September.
City officials announced in November that 139 homeless veterans had been housed since April, exceeding the goal of 100 set in the spring. Housing advocates and city officials have announced a joint initiative to move 424 homeless veterans off the streets by year’s end.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a $5 million plan last fall to provide housing for the city’s 721 homeless veterans by the end of this year. Federal agencies will cover $4.2 million of the tab, which includes construction of two permanent supportive housing communities for 127 veterans. The remaining veterans will be placed in existing affordable housing.
From 2010 through 2013, the city housed 222 veterans classified as chronically homeless, making Phoenix the nation’s first city to eliminate veterans’ homelessness in that category. Among former servicemembers who lack permanent housing but are not considered chronically homeless, the city’s population fell from 187 in 2011 to 48 last year.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to create a plan to end homelessness among veterans in the city, which has more than 4,200 former servicemembers who lack permanent housing, the largest such population in the country. The agreement, reached in a lawsuit that accused the VA of neglecting homeless veterans in the city, also calls for the creation of permanent supportive housing on a 400-acre VA campus in West Los Angeles.