The Obama administration works on stamping out veteran homelessness before 2015

The statistics of veteran homelessness are a bit unnerving. According to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans Affairs departments, 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter and nearly 76,000 went homeless for at least one night in 2009. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans says about 1.5 million other veterans are at risk because of poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.

For many veterans it is a stark reality. Earlier this year, Creative Loafing’s Mitch Perry wrote about a veteran of the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, James Bell, who after building a successful career found himself homeless. Due to the help of officials at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital and Tampa Crossroads, he was able to get help.

Officials say that all veterans at risk for homelessness or experiencing homelessness need easy access to services and support to get back onto their feet.

On behalf of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end homelessness, Opening Doors was released in June 2010. In 2011 updated data on Opening Doors show that within one year its 19 member agencies made a significant difference.

Another organization between HUD and the VA called HUD-VASH, which provides long-term case management home rental assistance and clinical services, also has newly updated statistics.

With the new commitment of the participants of HUD-VASH, Donovan announced during the conference call that more than 25,000 veterans have been housed since the beginning of the limited-scale program in 1992.

Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program or SSVF
was created in 2011 a homeless prevention and rapid re-housing program. Shinseki was proud to announce that SSVF awarded grants amounting to $55.9 million to preventive programs in 40 states and the District of Columbia. So far it has housed 22,000 families in the United States. In yesterday’s conference call Shinseki said the SSVF was giving an additional $100 million in SSVF grants that veterans could apply for in 2012.

Updated statistics presented by Shaun Donovan, the Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, and Eric Shinseki, the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary on Monday show a steady decline in the amount of homeless veterans in our nation in the past year.

This year’s count reports that veteran homelessness declined by 12 percent from 2010. In a conference call on Monday, Shinseki said that according to the present Point in Time count (PIT), 67, 495 veterans are homeless. This number is down from last year’s count of 76, 329. This reduction keeps the Obama administration on track for their idealistic goal of attempting to end homelessness among veterans by the year 2015.

Donovan said the PIT survey is given in over 3,000 cities and counties each year in January to ensure consistency.This year both homeless veterans living on the street and those in shelters were counted to improve the accuracy of their numbers.

The decline is a promising start but the job is only getting started for what HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan calls the worst event since the economic downturn of The Great Depression in 1929.

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