Who are homeless veterans?
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states the nations homeless veterans are prominently male, with roughly 5% being female. The majority of them are single; come from urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About one third of the adult homeless population are veterans.
America's homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama,Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military's anti-drugs cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of the homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two thirds served our country for at least three years, and one third were stationed in a war zone.
About 1.5 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
How many homeless veterans are there?
Although faultless, counts are impossible to come by the transient nature of the homeless population presents a major difficulty - VA estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experienced homelessness. Only 8% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 1/5 of the homeless population are veterans.
Why are Veterans Homeless?
In addition the complex set of factors influence all homelessness-extreme shortages affordable housing, livable income and access to healthcare-are large number of this place and at risk records live with lingering effects of posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol.
Although most homeless people are single, unaffiliated men... Most housing money in existing federal programs, in contrast, is devoted to helping homeless families or homeless women with dependent children.
Doesn't the Department of Veterans Affairs take care of homeless veterans?
To a certain extent, yes. VA has specialized homeless programs that serve more than 92,000 veterans, which is highly commendable. But, still leaves well over 100,000 more veterans, who experienced homelessness annually. They must seek assistance from local government agencies and community and faith-based service organizations. In its November 2007 "Vital Mission Report", the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that up to about a half million veterans have characteristics that put them in danger of homelessness. These veterans may require supportive services outside the scope of most VA programs.
What services do veterans need?
Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing and nutritional meals, essential physical health care, substance abuse aftercare, mental health counseling, and personal development and empowerment. Veterans also need job assessment, training and placement assistance. CVAF strongly believes that all programs to assist homeless veterans must focus on helping veterans reach the point where they can obtain and sustain employment, plus permanent assisted housing.
What seems to work best?
The most effective programs for homeless and at risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit "Vets Helping Vets" groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding at bettering themselves. Government money for homeless veterans is currently limited and services and available services are often capacity. It is critical that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources, and opportunity most Americans take for granted: housing, employment, and healthcare.
There are community based veteran organizations across the country, which have demonstrated impressive success reaching homeless veterans. Veterans who participate in these programs have a higher chance of becoming tax-paying citizens again. www.va.gov/homeless/
DEFINITIONS, DEMOGRAPHICS AND ESTIMATED NUMBERS
What is the definition of homeless?
The United States code contains the official federal designation of homelessness, which is commonly used because it controls federal funding streams. In title 42, chapter 119, subchapter one, homelessness is defined as;
11302. General definition of homeless individual
For purposes of this chapter, the term "homeless" or "homeless individual" or "homeless person" includes-
1. an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and
2. an individual who has primary residence that is
- a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
- an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
- a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
Demographics of Homeless Veterans.
"The Forgotten Americans-Homelessness: Programs and the People they Serve" - released Dec. 8, 1999, by the Interagency Council on the Homeless - is the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC), which was completed in 1996 and updated three years later. You can visit www.huduser.org and download the NSHAPC reports from there.
Veteran specific highlights:
- 23% of the homeless population are veterans
- 33% of the male homeless population are veterans
- 47% Vietnam Era
- 17% post Vietnam
- 15% pre Vietnam
- 67% served three years or more
- 33% stationed in a war zone
- 25% have used VA homeless services
- 85% completed high school/GED compared to 56% of non-veterans
- 89% received an Honorable Discharge
- 79% reside in central cities
- 16% reside in suburban areas
- 5% reside in rural areas
- 76% experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems
- 46% are white males compared to 34% non-veterans
- 46% are age 45 or older, compared to 20% non-veterans
- 45% need help finding jobs
- 37% need help finding housing
What does the California Veterans Assistance Foundation do?
Kern County has a estimated 4600 veterans. If you where to take the, 13% number we get from the VA, the estimates homeless veterans number in the county would be 5,980, on any given day.
CVAF serves as a liaison between the branches of the federal government and community based homeless veteran service providers. Today the CVAF has remained steadfast in its original goal of advocating and working for the elimination of homelessness among veterans.