New Ways Local Governments Are Reducing Veteran Homelessness
Every night, almost 50,000 veterans are homeless, according to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. While that number has been decreasing, it still hasn’t reached the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ goal of wiping out homelessness among veterans. While the VA is working hard on that goal, programs that work the most tend to be community programs.
Finding a home can be difficult to get for veterans, especially those who have spent large portions of time overseas. Those veterans often haven’t been able to build their credit scores due to time spent abroad, which makes it harder to qualify for housing. By relaxing certain application requirements for veterans, local governments help their veterans qualify for housing.
Help for Homeless
To ensure that homeless veterans don’t stay that way, local governments create a log of all the homeless veterans in a community. The log also includes any family members who are homeless with that veteran. The local government then focuses on housing everyone in that log.
One main issue for those homeless veterans who do seek help is finding the right organization. Veterans who have been incarcerated are also at risk for homelessness. Local governments have set up programs that are designed to help these veterans with common issues they may face, such as substance abuse programs.
If veterans don’t seek help, local governments reach out to them individually. According to the White House, local governments have focused on solving this problem by setting up the most efficient pathways for veterans to find housing. No matter how a homeless veteran seeks help, he’s put on a path towards housing. A veteran who works with the local government often performs this outreach, as homeless veterans may relate better with one of their own.
While some veterans may be homeless only once, for others, it’s a chronic issue.
For those veterans that have been homeless multiple times, local governments can provide more assistance so the problem doesn’t continue. In some cases, this may be putting the veteran in a group home to adjust.
While the goal of every local government is ending veteran homelessness, setting smaller goals along the way keeps people motivated and creates stepping stones towards the main goal. Local governments typically have monthly and quarterly goals, which often include placing a certain number of homeless veterans in homes.
Many veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life. If a veteran can’t find a job, they can’t pay for housing. Local governments prevent veteran homelessness by providing training and career services. The Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs also has a work therapy residence program for certain at-risk veterans. In the program, veterans live at a group home, work, earn a wage and receive job training.
Mental Health Services
Mental disorders and brain injuries are a common issue among veterans. If left untreated, these injuries can lead to job loss or homelessness. By providing mental health services, local governments both prevent veteran homelessness and provide help for those in need.
Veteran-focused events can make veterans aware of the services they have available and provide assistance to homeless veterans. Depending on the community, these events may take one or multiple days. They typically provide free food, health care checkups and information on the many benefits in place for veterans.
To solve the issue of veteran homelessness,
federal, state and local governments must work together. However, the effort starts at the local level. Do your part to help a veteran in need by visiting The Veterans Site and donating.