Historic decline in veteran homelessness since 2020

Photo of homeless veteran on street with "Will work for food" sign
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The number of veterans experiencing homelessness fell by 11% since 2020, according to a federal report. This is the largest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years.

The announcement was made jointly by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Veterans Administration (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) in November. The announcement provided preliminary results from an upcoming report on the state of homelessness in the nation that is required by Congress each year.

The drop in homelessness is even more significant when taking the last decade into account. The agencies announced that the number of homeless veterans has declined by 55% since 2010.

On a single night in January, 2022 there were 33,136 homeless veterans. This is down from 37,252 homeless veterans counted in January, 2020.

There was no national point-in-time count of unsheltered persons in January, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic limited outreach efforts by communities across the country, so only people living in shelters were counted that year.

How veteran homelessness fell

HUD, VA, and USICH credit the Housing First approach for reducing homelessness among veterans. This approach places people experiencing homelessness in stable housing as quickly as possible. Then, formerly homeless people get the full range of supportive services they need to stay in their homes, take care of their health, and improve their quality of life.

Three states and 83 local communities around the country have effectively ended veteran homelessness using the Housing First approach.

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said, “All Veterans deserve to have what they need to lead healthy, safe, and successful lives – that starts with a place to call home. The data released today shows we are closer than ever in ensuring that every Veteran has a home and challenges us to ensure that every Veteran – and every person in America – has a home.”

Efforts to end veteran homelessness continue 

The progress with ending veteran homelessness continues this year. The VA set a goal of re-housing 38,000 veterans this calendar year. Through October 22, 2022, 34,373 homeless veterans had been placed in permanent housing. This puts the VA on track to meet or even exceed its goals.

USICH Executive Director Jeff Olivet pointed out that communities have reduced homelessness among veterans during very challenging times, and that applying Housing First across the board could end homelessness for many other people. 

Olivet said, “Not only did we lower the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness, but we made this progress during a global pandemic and economic crisis. This proves that even under the most difficult circumstances, we can take care of each other and address homelessness.”

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