Sadly, if you have served in the military, you’re more at risk of experiencing homelessness. Why?
A variety of factors are at play, so there is no one fast and easy answer for why veterans experience consistently greater rates of homelessness than the general population. But one major factor is combat-related disabilities like traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are among the most significant risk factors for homelessness.
Five years ago, a young high school student that Kirsten was working with on a theater project revealed to her that he was homeless and completely on his own. It was one of those moments in life when everything just stopped — how could this be? This kid was bright, talented, funny, and ambitious. He was going to school, attending rehearsals, and seemed so normal. But each night he didn’t know where he was going to go.
He was working hard to make something happen for himself while being alone in an impossible situation, and he was going to great lengths to hide his circumstances. For us, he put a completely unexpected face on homeless youth. And when we discovered that — at that time in 2009 — there were almost fifteen thousand kids registered as homeless in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, we knew we had to make this film. This was a crisis and nobody seemed to be talking about it.
In order to house your homeless veterans in your community, you need to know who they are. That’s why creating a master list of homeless veterans in your community is step one on our Five Steps to Ending Veteran Homelessness. Creating a comprehensive list of homeless veterans in your community may sound daunting, but it could be easier than you think.
With coordinated assessment, regular and continuous outreach, and working with all your partners, your Continuum of Care should be able to create and maintain a list of veterans in your community who need to be housed. Here’s what we say in the 5 Steps.
If you’re a leader of a Continuum of Care (CoC), you likely know how many people are homeless and how many beds for homeless people there are in your community. If you’re a homelessness service provider, I bet you have a pretty good idea of how many people you serve in your program, and how these numbers have changed over the past few years. And if you’re a concerned citizen, I’m sure you are aware when you see an unsheltered homeless person sleeping on the street or in the park.
Each of these experiences is a small part of the larger picture of homelessness in a state and in America. So when we add it all up, what trends do we see?
If you receive the Alliance’s advocacy alerts, you might recall that not long ago members of Congress were circulating “Dear Colleague” letters in the House and Senate.
These letters give members of Congress the opportunity to publicly sign on in support of robust funding levels for programs that they believe should be national priorities. The Dear Colleague letters circulating in congress that were of most interest to us, of course, were letters in support of increased funding levels for homeless assistance and affordable housing programs.