May 25, 2018

Phoenix First City to End Vet Homelessness

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Phoenix First City to End Vet Homelessness

The White House says Phoenix has become the first community in the country to end homelessness among veterans who have long histories of living on the streets. 

In 2011, the city estimated it had 222 chronically homeless veterans. Today, it says that number stands at zero. It has relocated many of the homeless vets to affordable housing units. Following suit, Salt Lake City recently announced it has placed the last of its chronically homeless vets in housing, too. 

The federal government has vowed to end homelessness among vets by 2015 and eliminate homelessness altogether in the U.S. by 2020. 

The White House says there has been a big decrease in the number of homeless vets over the past few years. Currently, about 58,000, or 9 percent, of the homeless population are vets. Last January, about 76,000, or 12 percent of the nation’s homeless, were vets.

“We do think we can get to the point where we can say there are no more homeless veterans in the country,” says Laura Zeilinger, deputy director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “And if we do this for veterans, it’s something that as a nation, if we set our mind to, we can achieve for other populations as well.”

Studies have shown that it’s often less expensive for cities to find homeless people homes than let them continue to live on the streets. A 2009 analysis by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found that the monthly cost of housing and supportive services for one person was $605. On the other hand, the public costs of a person living on the street were about $2,900 a month.

Arizona has more homeless veterans than most other states in the country, with about one in five veterans being homeless, according to the state’s Department of Veterans’ Services.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs has given $913 million in vouchers since 2010 to homeless vets in communities where they live. Homeless vets may sometimes also be battling physical or mental ailments as well as substance-abuse problems that need to be addressed when relocating them. 

Source: “Program to End Homelessness Among Veterans Reaches a Milestone in Arizona,” The New York Times (Jan. 15, 2014)

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