Are We Really Going to End Veteran Homelessness?

Suddenly it’s everywhere: Congressional hearings, daily news stories, a pledge from hundreds of mayors. Community leaders and federal officials are talking about ending homelessness for veterans – not as some vague aspiration for the distant future, but by the end of this year, just a few months from now!

What’s going on?

This year thousands and thousands of homeless veterans are moving into permanent housing. Homeless service providers and advocates are organizing systematically to expand re-housing programs to reach all the homeless veterans in their communities. Money is on the table, thanks to bipartisan work in Congress and major philanthropic initiatives, and leaders are stepping up.

Of course, progress will vary from community to community, but if this national effort goes more or less according to plan, here is what we can expect to happen by the January 2016 Point-in-Time Count:

  • The number of veterans who remain homeless will fall to a startlingly low number. Some communities will not have a single homeless veteran.
  • Many communities will reach “functional zero,” meaning that they’ve ended the epidemic of homelessness among veterans that began in the 1980s. Homeless systems in these communities will ensure that spells of homelessness among veterans thereafter will be brief, rare, and nonrecurring.
  • Almost every community will have at least made positive changes in how they address the problem of veteran homelessness and will be housing homeless veterans faster.

Over the next month and a half, we at the Alliance will be doing everything we can to build support for this amazing work and the people (including many readers of this blog) who are doing it. As part of that effort, I’ll be blogging each week on what’s making this change happen, and what it means.

Do you want to be part of ending veteran homelessness? If so, now is the time to talk to people about it. Use your social media (hashtag: #NeverAnotherHomelessVet) to spread the word. If you haven’t already, sign on to the Alliance’s statement of support for the Never Another Homeless Veteran campaign.