The fight to end veteran homelessnessby Tim Manni
Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the national holidays which aren’t “paid” holidays or those in which we aren’t gathered around the family table for a big meal. Yet as I began to feel the rumble and hear the sounds of what turned out to be a steady stream of camouflaged Army Jeeps, Humvees, small tanks and cargo vehicles making their way down the street outside my office window, I quickly remembered that today is Veteran’s Day.
Thoughts of my grandfathers–both veterans of WWII–and my friends who served quickly filled my head. I send a few “Happy Veteran’s Day” text messages and then moved on with my day.
But today, that’s easier said than done. There’s a parade going through the center of town today to honor the veterans of past wars and current conflicts. And it’s those current conflicts in the Middle East, especially, that should serve to keep our nation’s veterans at the forefront of our minds, today and every day.
In every war, so it seems, soldiers fight a two-front war–one on the battlefield and one at home. The transition from soldier to civilian isn’t an easy one. And given the current state of our housing market and overall economy, many veterans are battling to remain in their homes.
Veterans are 50 percent more likely to become homeless compared to all other citizens. Furthermore, according to a recent joint study done by HUD and the VA, “In 2010, homeless veterans accounted for 1 in 150 veterans and about 1 in 9 veterans living in poverty. It also reported that in January 2010, 76,329 veterans were living in emergency shelter or in an unsheltered place.”
These numbers are staggering and, as HUD blogger April Tey Brown puts it, “unacceptable.”
To fight the war against veteran homelessness, the Obama Administration has created a strategic plan to end homelessness in veterans by 2015. The action plan is concentrated in five key areas: 1) providing affordable housing; 2) provide permanent supportive housing; 3) increase meaningful and sustainable employment; 4) reduce financial vulnerability; and 5) transform the homeless crisis response system.
HUD has also created the HUD-VASH program in which the VA works with local public housing authorities to provide rental assistance to homeless vets.
I couldn’t conclude this post any better than Tey Brown did in her own: “Our veterans stood up and fought for our freedom so now it’s our turn to stand up and fight for them. Because one homeless veteran is one too many.”