By Steven Renahan, Senior Policy Advisor
In the past two years, our community has made significant progress in addressing the needs of homeless veterans, however, much remains to be done. Following U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki’s 2009 commitment to end homelessness among veterans, the number of homeless veterans nationwide has decreased from 75,609 homeless veterans on a single night in 2009 to 67,495 veterans who were
homeless nationally in HUD’s January 2011 homeless census. This is largely due to federal government funding of 37,190 permanent housing vouchers nationally over the past four years (2,375 of those in Los Angeles County), with another 10,000 to soon be released nationally.
According to the 2011 homeless count performed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there are an estimated 8,817 veterans who are homeless in Los Angeles County. With increasing numbers of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, without intervention, this number is likely to increase. While the federal initiative is a significant investment, there are still many barriers to successfully serving homeless veterans—especially those who have been homeless for long periods of time. Hopefully, two new initiatives will improve our success in this area. One, the VA will contract out to community-based agencies case management for many homeless veterans, including housing placement. Two, the VA has established a goal that 65%
of all veterans receiving such assistance will be chronically homeless veterans.
|The landscaped terrace at Westside Residence Hall II is available both to new residents and to current residents of Westside Residence Hall I (in background).|
And in the community, after many unfortunate delays, housing for veterans is being developed. In December 2011, U.S. Veterans Initiative completed their 196 units of permanent, affordable supportive housing in Inglewood for homeless veterans as well as affordable housing for low-income veterans, many of whom are in the workforce. And just last week, A Community of Friends and New Directions broke ground for New Directions Sepulveda I and II in the San Fernando Valley, which will provide permanent supportive housing to 147 homeless veterans.
There is much to celebrate as
our community and our nation turns its attention to those who have given so much to our country.
|The attractive entrance to the Westside Residences, where final touches are being made to the exterior.|
|The Westside Residence Hall II terrace includes barbecues and a fireplace for the residents to enjoy together.|
|A gleaming industrial kitchen
helps support the quality of life for the Veterans at Westside Residence Hall II.