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Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congres

Source: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Executive Summary: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are pleased to present Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. This report is the result of ongoing collaboration between HUD and the VA to understand the extent and nature of homelessness among veterans in the United States. The information presented in this report is intended to inform public policymakers, local practitioners and the general public about veteran homelessness. It also advances the goals of the nation’s federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness (Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness) through the collection, analysis, and reporting of quality, timely data on homelessness. The Veteran’s Supplemental Report provides one-day and one-year estimates of the number of homeless veterans nationally. This report also examines the demographic characteristics of homeless veterans and compares them to the characteristics of various other population groups, including all U.S. veterans, all veterans living in poverty, and non-veteran adults who are and are not homeless. These comparisons illuminate the heightened risks of becoming homeless faced by some veterans. The report also discusses the location of homeless veterans in the United States by state and by type of location. Finally, the report describes the flow of veterans into the shelter system and, once there, how they use the system. Below is a summary of major findings. Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness Among Veterans On a single night in January 2009, 75,609 veterans were homeless; 57 percent were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program; and the remaining 43 percent were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation (i.e., unsheltered). Veterans are overrepresented among the homeless population. At a point in time in 2009, approximately 12 percent of all people (and 16 percent of adults) experiencing homelessness identified as a veteran, as did 10 percent of those homeless over the course of a year. Less than 8 percent of the total U.S. population has veteran status. One-Year Estimates of Sheltered Homelessness Among Veterans An estimated 136,334 veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. This accounts for 1 of every 168 veterans in the U.S. or 1 out of every 10 veterans living in poverty. Just over 96 percent of sheltered veterans were individuals, and just less than 4 percent were veterans who were a part of a family. While homeless veterans make up less than 1 percent of all veterans, within the poverty population veterans are at greater risk of homelessness than non-veterans. Ten percent of veterans in poverty became homeless at some point during the year, compared to just over 5 percent of adults in poverty. Characteristics of Sheltered Homeless Veterans Homeless veterans are most often white men, between the ages of 31 and 50 years, with a disability, and alone in shelter. The small number of sheltered homeless veterans in families typically are younger, minority women and less likely to have a disability. However, sheltered homeless veterans in families are more likely to have a male adult present in the household than other homeless families. Veterans with High Risk of Becoming Homeless Rates of homelessness among veterans living in poverty are particularly high for veterans identifying as Hispanic/Latino (1 in 4) or African American (1 in 4). Two groups of homeless veterans—women and people between age 18 and 30—are small in number. However, female veterans and young veterans are at high risk of becoming homeless, and both groups are growing within the overall veteran population. Location of Homeless Veterans Similar to the overall homeless population, almost half of homeless veterans on a given night were located in four states: California, Florida, Texas, and New York. Only 28 percent of all veterans were located in those same four states. The share of homeless veterans located in the densest urban areas (or principal cities) is more than twice that of all veterans (72 percent compared to 31 percent). Prior Living Arrangement and Patterns of Shelter Use Most sheltered veterans entered shelter or transitional housing from another homeless situation. In 2009, 46 percent of sheltered veterans accessed residential services from some other homeless situation (25 percent from emergency shelter or transitional housing and 21 percent from an unsheltered location). Veterans were less likely than non-veterans to have come from housing –either their own unit or that of a friend or family member. Approximately 32 percent of veterans came from housing compared to 42 percent of non-veterans. Of those who did come from housing, veterans were more likely than non-veterans to come from their own unit (40 percent compared to 26 percent) and less likely to have been doubled up with friends or family (58 percent compared to 73 percent for non-veterans). Most veterans who used emergency shelter did not use it for very long. One-third of veterans stayed in shelter for less than one week, 61 percent used shelter for less than one month, and 84 percent stayed for less than 3 months. Veterans who were alone had a median length of stay of 21 days in emergency shelter and 117 days in transitional housing. The median length of stay for non-veterans who were alone was 17 days in emergency shelter and 106 days in transitional housing. For veterans in homeless families, the median length of stay in emergency shelter was 30 days and 137 days in transitional housing. The median length of stay for non-veterans in homeless families was 36 days in emergency shelter and 175 days in transitional housing.

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