Homeless Veteran Rates Are On The Rise
Posted on December 08 2017
According the the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the rate of veterans who are homeless has increased for the first time since 2010.
California is home to most of the increase (Los Angeles County in particular) with many other state's numbers dropping. Overall veteran homelessness rates have been steadily dropping since 2009.
This is surprising since there was a such a huge national push to drop the rate down to zero by 2015. Former Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki began the initiative in 2010.
Dealing with homelessness is incredibly difficult. If it was so easy, churches, governmental agencies and non profits would have found a solution by now with the general population. One of the biggest factors in the homeless population is mental health. The veteran population in particular already struggles with this problem. The difference between veterans and the civilian sector is that veterans have much more resources to help them.
How should we deal with veteran homelessness? Why have we not built a couple facilities that will house and provide a place for homeless veterans to get the assistance they need? Many veterans have problems only specific to their community. Why do we push that onto local non profits and government agencies that are already trying to solve homelessness among the general population?
It seems to me that if we are solely focused on taking care of the veteran population, we should have a handful of facilities dedicated to doing this. These facilities should offer temporary housing with an array of resources available to help veterans get back on their feet. Many don't know or understand all the resources that they have available to them. They may need mental and psychical healthcare. If these veterans are homeless due to a combat related or service related injury, it is our responsibility to help them on their feet.
We could also have many of these veteran entrepreneur programs and networks there to assist them in choosing a path forward. Possibly finding long term employment or other opportunities to get them on a better path.
If a veteran refuses these services, then that's on them. If they wish to continue to be homeless, they have the freedom to do so. However, we should be trying something more than just offering housing vouchers. If veterans need to be relocated to better opportunities, then let's do it. It's time we do something different.
But in order to do that, we have to see the homeless population as something different than just lazy individuals who would rather lay on the street and beg for money. We as a society need to change our perception of how we view and treat homeless people before we can ever hope to solve this crisis.