On a given night in 2015, nearly 50,000 veterans experienced homelessness across the country, a staggering number, yet a number that represents a 36 percent decline since 2010. We’re making progress. But now administrative changes brewing at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) could threaten that progress.
The changes have to do with several VA transitional housing and rapid rehousing programs that have been largely responsible for the progress we have made in recent years. In short, these changes would make certain veterans ineligible for these programs. Senior leaders at VA estimate such changes would affect approximately 15 percent of the current population served by these programs.
These talking points are meant to help advocates explain to their members of Congress the purpose of legislation that will prevent eligibility changes for certain housing assistance programs that serve homeless veterans.
In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a meeting in Atlanta with several representatives from emergency shelters, health experts, federal officials, and national homeless organizations to discuss the spread of Tuberculosis (TB) in homeless shelter populations.
TB can be a fatal disease; it is transmitted through the air and can remain in the air for many hours, which means that people staying in jails or shelters jails are especially susceptible to TB. Not only do homeless people spend extended periods in crowded shelters, they’re more likely to have compromised immune systems from living on the streets.
One a single night of this year, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness in across the country. This is according to the 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) Part 1, which was released today by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This report provides data aggregated from community point-in-time counts conducted in January and includes longitudinal trends in overall homelessness and among specific subpopulations.
So how are we doing in our efforts to end homelessness? Overall homelessness has decreased by 11.4 percent since 2010, when the Administration set ambitious goals to end veteran and chronic homelessness in five years and family and youth homelessness in 10 years. And, we have seen substantial decreases in veteran, chronic, and family homelessness in that same time period:
Now that topline federal spending levels have been increased, your voice as a homeless advocate is as important as ever.
Here’s where we’re at in the federal funding process. On Monday, Nov. 2, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law, making $33 billion available for nondefense discretionary programs in fiscal year (FY) 2016. This funding has already been divided among the appropriations subcommittees, but the allocations have yet to be made public. Right now, committee staff are hard at work negotiating competing demands to produce a final bill to set spending levels for federal programs.