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What Veteran Homelessness Looks Like Today

What Veteran Homelessness Looks Like Today

In late 2016, Connecticut was the first state in the union to declare it had ended veteran homelessness. To date, all known homeless vets in the state remain matched to housing. And, between 2010 and 2016 the number of homeless Veterans nationwide dropped by an estimated 46 percent. All great news.

But the thing about homelessness is that there is always someone new who’s affected by a housing emergency. To get a handle on addressing veteran homelessness, the VA health system now screens patients to identify those who are currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Ever wonder what a typical homeless vet looks like? What difficulties led up their homelessness? Or, what problems are keeping them from regaining housing? Here’s a profile of the US vet homeless population, as reported by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness:

  • Just over 9 percent of all homeless adults (or 40,056 individuals) are US military veterans.
  • Two-thirds of homeless vets (24,690) have a roof over their heads (at a shelter or temporary housing facility), while one-third (15,366) are unsheltered, living in cars, in encampments, or on the streets.
  • There are homeless vets in every state; however, nearly one-third reside in either California or Florida.
  • Most homeless vets are men over age 50 living in urban areas; only 9 percent were women.
  • Women vets are more than twice as likely as their non-vet counterparts to experience homelessness.
  • More than one third of homeless women vets have experienced military sexual trauma, yet they have lower rates of substance abuse and mental health problems than homeless male vets.
  • Homeless women vets are more likely to be a part of a family with children, compared to male vets.
  • Those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan make up a relatively small but growing number of homeless vets. They are more racially diverse than older veterans, and have a higher rate of service-connected disability. They are also more likely to receive public assistance and have lower incomes, compared to older vets.
  • Reported disabilities among homeless vets are: chronic medical conditions, depression, PTSD, or substance abuse.
  • Among veterans, a variety of experiences before, during, and after their military service may increase their risk of homelessness: poverty, unemployment, economic hardships, trauma, mental health conditions, substance abuse, relationship conflicts, social isolation, and incarceration.