Tags: Veterans | veteran | homelessness | big ideas

6 Big Ideas to End Veteran Homelessness

By    |   Sunday, 28 Jun 2015 11:26 AM

Homelessness among U.S. veterans is an issue of concern for many who would like to put an end to the problem. Veteran homelessness fell by about a third between 2010 and 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which estimates the number of homeless veterans in the United States at about 50,000.

Here are six big ideas for ending veteran homelessness.

1. Opening Doors
Maybe the biggest idea to end veteran homelessness is Opening Doors, the federal interagency plan launched in 2010 to combat homelessness in every walk of life. The plan includes a goal of getting every homeless veteran of the U.S. armed services into stable housing by the end of 2015, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

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Opening Doors has claimed successes using vouchers and other housing resources at the national, state and local level. Homelessness among veterans fell by 33 percent between 2010 and 2014, meaning almost 25,000 veterans secured stable housing in that time frame, according to a federal estimate.

But the work is far from done, especially when measured against the ambitious goal the program set for itself. Some agencies behind Opening Doors are backing away from the original timetable, Military Times reports.

In 2015, an estimated 50,000 veterans were living on the streets or in transit between shelters, institutions and other temporary refuges, with the Opening Doors self-imposed deadline looming, and some veterans complaining of being "pushed into shelters and housing units that are bug-infested and too expensive" even with federal vouchers, Al Jazeera America reported.

2. Supportive Services for Veteran Families
Launched in 2011, Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) emerged from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as part of a government-wide initiative to not only end homelessness, but to prevent it by keeping people from lapsing back into homelessness once they're housed.

The parent program, called Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP), provides support services such as regular visits by aid workers to low-income people living in or transitioning to permanent housing, and fast action to keep bouts of homelessness, when they do occur, as brief as possible.

By funding local nonprofit organizations that work every day with the homeless, SSVF assisted more than 61,000 veteran households (singles, couples and families with children) encompassing more than 90,000 people, at an average cost of $2,480 per household, in its first two years of operation, according to the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, a research and educational organization.

3. Mayors Challenge
The Mayors Challenge to end veteran homelessness is an initiative promoted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to engage America's urban centers in the task as part of the VA's 25 Cities project.

These efforts have also claimed some initial successes. By June 2015, four cities — Houston, Phoenix, New Orleans and Salt Lake City — had announced that they had effectively ended veteran homelessness within their borders, according to the National League of Cities.

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4. Housing First
The VA has also embraced a strategy for combating homelessness known as Housing First, which holds that a stable and secure living environment is a person's most pressing need, and that other challenges to health, livelihood and overall well-being are more readily met if the condition of housing is satisfied first, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

5. Housing America’s Future
Although not specifically aimed at veterans, Housing America's Future, a 2013 think tank report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, made waves with its estimate that all homelessness in the United States could be ended for about $22.5 billion per year. That figure represented the cost of rental vouchers for every U.S. household earning 30 percent or less of a community's area median income (AMI).

6. National Housing Trust Fund
Proponents of the National Housing Trust Fund, created in 2008 and still waiting to be used, say it could be funded by cutting the federal mortgage interest deduction in half and converting it into a tax credit — a difficult proposition given the deduction's enduring popularity with homeowners. Nevertheless, advocates say the move could raise $200 billion over 10 years toward low-income housing construction, Think Progress reported.

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Homelessness among U.S. veterans is an issue of concern for many who would like to put an end to the problem. Veteran homelessness fell by about a third between 2010 and 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
veteran, homelessness, big ideas
Sunday, 28 Jun 2015 11:26 AM
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