November 11, 2007

Homeless Veterans

Just browsing the news I saw this story and this stunning statistic,

One in four homeless people in the US is a military veteran, a report has found, even though veterans make up only 11% of the adult population.
Living as a veteran of the streets

Looking to find another report of this story, I found a CNN article, Study: Veterans more likely to be homeless, with the same statistic and more about the report.

On any given night last year, nearly 196,000 veterans slept on the street, in a shelter or in transitional housing, the study by the Homelessness Research Institute found.

"Veterans make up a disproportionate share of homeless people," the report said. "This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed and have a lower poverty rate than the general population."

The president of the institute's parent group appealed Thursday to lawmakers and civilians to help solve veteran homelessness before thousands of U.S. service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read the entire article and view the video of a Ben Israel describing his homeless experience.

About 44,000 to 64,000 veterans are classified as "chronically homeless" -- homeless for long periods or repeatedly.

Other veterans -- nearly 468,000 -- are experiencing "severe housing cost burden," or paying more than half their income for housing, thereby putting them at a high risk for homelessness.

The article continues.
To reduce chronic homelessness among veterans by half, the report concluded housing coupled with supportive services should be increased by 25,000 units, and the number of housing vouchers for veterans should be increased by 20,000.
There is an program responsible for homeless veterans in the Department of Veteran Affairs, my hope that it will have more funding and the ability to do more out reach, especially for the mentally ill veteran. There are some veteran organizations that help too. I personally can not recommend any that one could could contribute to. I only became familiar with this issue when I read these articles a few days ago. I would only say that the next time you see a homeless person, don't be quick to assume why they are homeless, be they a veteran or not, but remember that many of these homeless have been responsible for our security and defense.

Ben Israel's homelessness ended because of a private organization helping, it is described in the first article, Living as a veteran of the streets.

He was in line at one more soup kitchen when he was approached by someone from Pathways to Housing.

It is a New York-based charity which, for 17 years, has helped the homeless who have psychiatric problems.

Important for Ben was that, as Pathway's mission statement makes clear, they do not require treatment or sobriety as a pre-condition of getting someone into an apartment.

Their philosophy is that the path to recovery starts with getting off the street and under a roof.

When we honor our veterans today we should not forget those who are homeless and if some would approach you for something, even if you don't know how to help, at least tell them that you appreciated their service.

1 comment:

A. said...

I think your name, Veterans' Day, is probably better than Remembrance Day in the UK which tends to dwell on the ones who have given their lives. Perhaps a bit less so recently but still that seems the main focus.

It's a very good point you make, to think of the homeless veterans. They are often forgotten though their needs are probably greatest.