Decline in Veteran Homelessness Biggest in 5 Years

HUD, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently announced preliminary results of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count showing an 11 percent decline in veteran homelessness since early 2020, the last time a full count was conducted. This is the biggest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years.

The data show that on a single night in January 2022, there were 33,136 veterans who were experiencing homelessness in the United States – down from 37,252 in 2020. Overall, this represents a 55.3 percent reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness since 2010.

The context: The 2022 PIT Count is the first full PIT Count since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2021, prior to the widespread availability of vaccines, many communities did not conduct unsheltered counts (counts of veterans in emergency shelters and transitional housing) in order to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, resulting in an incomplete picture of veteran homelessness in America.

Notably, the results from the PIT Count do not reflect the additional efforts launched by HUD, VA, and USICH in 2022, including VA’s goal to re-house 38,000 veterans in this calendar year. Through September, VA has placed nearly 31,000 homeless veterans into permanent housing — putting VA on track to meet, or even exceed, its goal.

One level deeper: HUD, VA, and USICH are making progress using the evidence-based “Housing First” approach, which prioritizes getting a veteran into housing, then provides the veteran with the wraparound support they need to stay housed — including health care, job training, legal and education assistance, and more. “Housing First” is foundational to the Biden administration’s nationwide “House America” initiative to address homelessness by leveraging historic investments provided through the American Rescue Plan.

This progress has been made possible by the leadership of President Biden and the resources provided by Congress during the pandemic. With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, VA’s homeless programs received $481 million in additional funding to support Veterans — including funding to expand the Shallow Subsidy Initiative, expand the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program, address legal barriers to housing, and transform congregate transitional housing spaces into individual rooms with bathrooms, and more. Overall, the American Rescue Plan provided more than $5 billion to assist individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as more than $40 billion for housing provisions nationwide.