There are several reasons a veteran may become homeless, including poverty, lack of family support, substance use, or mental health challenges incurred while serving. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to ending veteran homelessness by 2015. Since 2009, when President Barack Obama announced his goal of ending veteran homelessness, the number of homeless veterans has dropped by 17.2 percent. In 2013 the VA dedicated $1.4 billion to specialized homeless programs and $4.4 billion to health care for homeless veterans. In an effort to build on the progress, the VA has announced it will invest an additional $600 million to this cause. The VA Secretary Eric Shineski stated, “Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets, living without hope. These grants play a critical role in addressing veteran homelessness by assisting our vital partners at the local level in their efforts.”
In the 2013 Point-in-Time estimates there were 57,849 homeless veterans on a single night in January, which is an 8 percent drop since 2012 and a 24percent decline since 2010.
One of the tools the VA uses to prevent homelessness is the Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant program. These funds will be available to non-profit groups that serve low-income veteran families in a split amount of, $300 million in 2014 and $300 million in 2015. This program employs a housing first model, which provides permanent housing to the veteran first and then provides additional benefits, including health care and other services.
If you are a veteran who is homeless, or you know someone who is either homeless or at risk for becoming homeless, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (877-4AID-VET). This is a toll-free hotline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also visit va.gov/homeless to see a list of services available through the VA. The VA is dedicated to meeting the needs of every veteran through its programs and resources, like health care, housing assistance, mental health and employment/job training.
If you are homeless due to a medical condition that resulted from your service, you should consider applying for disability benefits through the VA. Talk to a qualified attorney who can answer your questions on how to apply and if you qualify.