Hispanic and African American Vets at greater risk of living on the streets/shelters
Our guest blogger today is Mark Johnston, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs Programs
For the first time ever, HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published the most comprehensive analysis of the extent of homelessness among American veterans. According to HUD and VA’s assessment released this week, nearly 76,000 veterans were homeless on a given night in 2009, while roughly 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during that year – a national tragedy.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has said that “understanding the nature and scope of homelessness among all our veterans is critical to meeting President Obama’s goal of ending veterans’ homelessness by 2015.”
Overall, veterans are fifty percent more likely to become homeless compared to all Americans, and the risk is even greater among poor minority veterans. Of all veterans in shelters, 34% were African American and 11% were Hispanic. By comparison, only 11% of all veterans are African American and 5% are Hispanic. That means that Hispanics and African Americans are significantly overrepresented in the homeless population. The risk of homelessness among poor minority veterans is even greater. Poor Hispanic veterans are twice as likely to use a shelter compared with poor non-Hispanic veterans. African American veterans in poverty had similar rates of homelessness.
HUD and VA are currently working together to administer a joint program specifically targeted to homeless veterans. Already, through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, HUD provides rental assistance for homeless veterans while VA offers case management and clinical services. Since 2008, a total investment of $225 million is working to provide housing connected to VA health care for some 30,000 veterans who had been homeless. And last month, HUD awarded $1.4 billion to keep nearly 7,000 local homeless assistance programs operating in the coming year. These programs house hundreds of thousands of persons who had lived on our streets and in emergency shelters. Finally, the Department also allocated $1.5 billion through its newHomeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing (HPRP) Program, to prevent people from becoming homeless due to the recession and to rapidly re-house those who fell into homelessness.