Homeless Veterans

There are far too many veterans are homeless in America—between 130,000 and 200,000 on any given night—representing between one fourth and one-fifth of all homeless people. Three times that many veterans are struggling with excessive rent burdens and thus at increased risk of homelessness.

Further, there is concern about the future. Women veterans and those with disabilities including post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are more likely to become homeless, and a higher percentage of veterans returning from the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have these characteristics.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night . And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.

Approximately 40% of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34% of the general adult male population. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates that on any given night, 200,000 veterans are homeless, and 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness during the course of a year (National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 2006). 97% of those homeless veterans will be male (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008). 

A shortage of affordable housing, low incomes and lack of access to health care have long been among the reasons for homeless veterans. But vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing a perfect storm:

A severe recession that makes jobs scarce if not impossible to find, and the soul-scorching effects of repeated combat tours that are causing a plague of post-traumatic stress disorder.

And with it the crippling effects, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and failed relationships and marriages.