BY SANDY MILLER, CHAIR
As we begin another year, the committee continues to work on legislative issues regarding the plight of homeless veterans. Many changes in the VA Grant & Per Diem program have taken place over the last year.
Looking at the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, a report of the 2017 numbers on a single night in January, 40,020 veterans were experiencing homelessness. This reflects a decrease since the 2009 AHAR report; however, it is an increase from the January 2016 numbers. The number of veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness increased from 2016 to 2017 for the first time since 2012.
A total of 61.7 percent of veterans (24,690) experienced homelessness in sheltered locations; 38.3 percent (15,330) were in unsheltered locations. Four states accounted for more than half of the nation’s homeless veterans: California (28.7 percent; 11,436 veterans), Florida (7.1 percent; 2,817 veterans), Texas (5.5 percent; 2,200 veterans), and Washington (5.2 percent; 2,093 veterans). About one in ten adults experiencing homelessness (9.2 percent) was a veteran. Veterans were a slightly lower share of the total U.S. adult population, 8.5 percent.
The six states with the highest rates of veterans among homeless adults were South Dakota (17.9 percent), Montana (17.2 percent), South Carolina (14.7 percent), Indiana (14.4 percent), Idaho (14.3 percent), and Kentucky (14.3 percent).
With nearly 55 percent being 62 or older, the need for geriatric care is becoming a necessity. The requirements for admission to VA nursing homes exclude many who need this service. One of the priority categories under the VA Grant & Per Diem program is aging veterans. Keeping aging veterans housed and off the streets must be addressed by both the VA and nonprofits across the country.
The VVA Homeless Veterans Committee continues to work with AVVA in Project Friendship. All state councils and chapters are encouraged to support this project. It selects a nonprofit providing homeless services to veterans in the cities where VVA annual meetings are held.
Please lend a helping hand to agencies in your communities that are helping homeless veterans. Any help is greatly appreciated by the agency and the veterans it serves. If your chapter or state council is involved in activities involving homeless efforts in the community, please forward this information to me at firstname.lastname@example.org