VA housed more than 40,000 homeless veterans in 2022 amid push to tackle crisis
Stars and Stripes January 27, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs put more than 40,000 veterans into safe and stable homes last year, taking a sizable step toward its goal of eradicating homelessness among veterans in the United States, according to agency officials.
The department said this week that it had aimed to house 38,000 veterans permanently in 2022 and exceeded that goal by 3,401, or 6.3%. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness nationally dropped by 11% since 2020.
“There are thousands of formerly homeless veterans who are going to sleep tonight in good, safe, stable homes — and there’s nothing more important than that,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is great progress, but it’s just the beginning. We at VA will not rest until the phrase ‘homeless veteran’ is a thing of the past.”
Veterans make up nearly 7% of the adult homeless population, according to a December 2022 report by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Former service members are more likely than civilians to end up homeless due to a higher risk of traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions that impact reintegration into civilian life, according to the report. Women veterans in particular are more than twice as likely as nonveteran women to experience homelessness partly due to military sexual trauma.
The VA has worked to combat the problem by first providing housing to veterans and then health care, job training, legal and education support. The department credited those efforts for contributing to a 55.3% decline in the number of homeless veterans since 2010.
Throughout 2022, the VA found apartments or houses for veterans to rent or own and often provided a subsidy to make the housing affordable. VA staff also helped some veterans end their homelessness by reuniting them with family and friends, according to the VA.
The department paid extra attention to Los Angeles, where the number of homeless veterans is higher than any other American city.
McDonough said last February that he wanted to get at least 1,500 homeless veterans in Los Angeles into permanent housing in 2022. The VA said it provided 1,301 permanent housing placements to formerly homeless veterans in the area last year.
The Biden administration aims to reduce all homelessness by 25% by 2025, according to a strategic plan released last year.
The VA announced in November that an annual point-in-time tally showed an 11% decline in veteran homelessness since the last full count in early 2020. On a single night in January 2022, there were 33,136 veterans experiencing homelessness compared to 37,252 in 2020.
The decrease represented the biggest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years, according to the VA.