By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director
In 2009, when President Obama and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Erick K. Shinseki proclaimed that we as a nation would end Veteran’s homelessness by 2015, my reaction was one of skepticism. In the 30 years that I have worked to solve homelessness, I had never seen a sustained, appropriately targeted, and adequate federal funding commitment to end homelessness.
But now I have become a believer. According to the most recent national estimates, on any given night, 62,619 men and women veterans were homeless in 2012, compared to the 75,609 in 2009—a 17% decrease in three years. What is astounding is that this drop in homelessness occurs at a time when we would expect to see an increase in homelessness given the growing number of veterans returning home, and the many challenges they face in securing employment in our tight employment market.
The reason for this turn-around has been two-fold: the utilization of evidence-based approaches such as Homeless Prevention, Rapid Rehousing, and Housing First; and a new and ongoing sustained infusion of federal funding necessary to bring them to scale.