As the war in Iraq draws to a close, Secretary Donovan and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki joined together to announce some real progress in veterans’ homelessness. Every year, we measure the progress made toward ending homelessness through the annual “Point-in-Time” (PIT) count. And this year, we are happy to report that veterans’ homelessness fell by nearly 12 percent since January 2010 – Impressive progress made in the wake of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
We have made great progress but there is still so much work to do. HUD and VA continue to work together to end veterans’ homelessness once and for all. Through tools like HUD-VASH, HUD and VA are making some real progress towards this ambitious goal. HUD and VA have housed about 20 times as many veterans in the last 2 years than ever before — 25,000 more veterans since the beginning of the program.
The Recovery Act’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) has been another important resource toward the progress made so far. Together with the HEARTH Act, HUD and VA will be able to continue providing HPRP’s rapid re-housing and preventive services to veterans who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This means that for the first time veterans will have a true continuum of assistance – from prevention and outreach, to emergency shelter, transitional housing and rapid re-housing, to permanent supportive housing.
Ending Veterans’ Homelessness is no doubt a challenge, but one we can certainly meet. We can prevent and end homelessness for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. They have stood up and fought for our freedom. Now it’s our turn to stand up and fight for them because one homeless veteran is one too many.