“As of the last, official count, about 578,424 people experience homelessness on any given night in the United States,” according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Homeless veterans make up a substantial portion of that number.
In 2009, the Obama Administration committed to ending veteran homelessness in the U.S. by the end of 2015. His administration was not able to reach that goal, but there has been a 33 percent decrease in the number of homeless veterans.
Although the number of homeless veterans has decreased since 2010, there are still roughly 49,933 homeless veterans in America, according to the national estimate released by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
Our country has a long way to go to get rid of the veteran homeless epidemic once and for all. While we aren’t nearly there, yet, there are great organizations working around the clock to offer housing, health care, and employment assistance to our country’s homeless veterans.
The following resources are available to homeless veterans and their families. If you yourself or someone you know is already homeless or at risk of homelessness reach out to one of these organizations for help.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has resources to help people who are literally homeless, at serious risk of homelessness, anyone fleeing from domestic violence. HUD helps over 1 million people every year by supplying emergency, transitional, or permanent housing solutions to people in need. They have a special focus for helping homeless veterans as well.
Free financial counseling services are available through HUD offices. Veterans can reach out for free advice and counseling on buying a home, renting, defaulting on a mortgage, foreclosure avoidance, credit problems, and even help with reverse mortgages.
To get help with any of these housing issues, you can call (800) 569-4287 FREE or search for the nearest approved housing counseling agency.
Local homeless assistance is available for veterans through your nearest HUD office. Call the HUDVET National Hotline at (877) 424-3838 FREE for around the clock assistance, or view the resources for homeless veterans on the HUD Exchange.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which is based out of Washington D.C. and run by a 23-member board of directors. The NCHV acts as a “resource and technical assistance center for a national network of community-based service providers and local, state and federal agencies.” They work to bridge the gap in care from the 60% of homeless veterans that Veterans Affairs is not able to help each year. They do this by providing emergency and transitional support housing, food, healthcare, job training and placement assistance, legal aid and case management support for hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans each year.
The Salvation army offers homeless and housing services to veterans (and all people in need) in the form of group homes, emergency shelters, and transitional living centers, They provide food and lodging for varying amounts of time depending on need. They also provide education services, counseling help, and vocation assistance.
For more information for yourself or a friend, you’ll be able to find specific program information by contacting your local Salvation Army Corps Community Center.
United Way Worldwide
The United Way offers confidential services to help veterans and their families to combat homelessness by using their resources to make sure that veterans have enough to eat and a place to stay.
Reach out to their helpline by simply calling 2-1-1. United Way’s hotline is 100 percent free and confidential.
The VA works in partnerships with federal, state and local agencies as well as faith-based and community nonprofit organizations to help offer housing assistance, health care, and community employment services to our country’s veterans experiencing homelessness.
The HUD-VASH program assists homeless veterans with a service-connected disability rating.
Veterans and their families may also access VA services by calling the following toll-free number: 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).
Too many veterans of our armed forces members are still on the streets or in homeless shelters. We need to to our best ensure that there are not any homeless veterans left in our country. Veteran homelessness is a problem that we can all work towards remedying together. Our veterans fought for us, it’s our turn to fight for them.
One way to help fight this epidemic is to get personally involved. If you know of any homeless veterans personally, reach out to the resources and organizations listed above and try to get that person the assistance they need.
Anyone can help by searching through the Homeless shelter directory to find the nearest location where they can volunteer. Donate food to your local food pantry. When the shelves are kept stocked by the community, shelters are able to refocus their available funds on other resources for the homeless.
Also, look at the map of cities whose mayors have signed on with Michelle Obama to help end homelessness among veterans. If your city is not listed, reach out to your mayor and encourage them through phone calls, emails, and letter campaigns to become part of the solution for ending homelessness.
Our country is headed in the right direction to combat homelessness in our veteran community, but we still have a long way to go, and many more veterans to help. Our homeless veterans deserve better than sleeping on the streets.