Policies to End Veteran Homelessness Begin to Bear Fruit

The White House and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs set quite the goal in 2009, as they wanted to find a place to live for every homeless veteran. Both began implementing strategies in 2010, which required close collaboration with local and state governments. As of 2016, the dramatic effects are becoming more and more visible, as multiple cities have been able to end veteran homelessness within their borders. While this progress is promising, the work isn’t truly done until not one veteran in the country has to be homeless.

The White House has called its strategy for solving veteran homelessness “Opening Doors.” Since it started, the homeless rate among the nation’s veterans has dropped 36 percent. Since 2013, one-third of all homeless veterans have been relocated to permanent housing. The strategy works through a collaborative effort, and one way the Federal government has gotten individual cities involved is through the Mayors Challenge, where mayors sign on to end veteran homelessness in their area by the end of the year.

They say when it rains, it pours, and that has certainly been the case with cities ending veteran homelessness. New Orleans got the ball rolling in early 2015 when it helped all its homeless veterans find housing. Philadelphia ended veteran homelessness by the end of 2015, after a two-year effort where the state found homes for 1,390 veterans. Virginia became the first state to end veteran homelessness, and, fittingly enough, it happened on Veterans Day.

The VA assists states and localities in helping their homeless veterans, and it tracks their progress so they know how they’re doing. Offering the ability to identify and track all homeless veterans as they go through the housing process, the tools provided by the VA are a major factor in finding homes for every veteran.

Mayors aren’t the only people who can pledge to end veteran homelessness. Learn how you can help homeless veterans, and take a pledge of your own to get started.

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