How Can We End Homelessness? Let’s Start—and Finish—With Veterans

We are so close to this goal. We should not change our focus before we meet it.

By Elisha Harig-Blaine

Since the numbers for the 2013 Point-in- Time (PIT) survey conducted for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were released, there has been much discussion of the reduction in the number of homeless veterans. In 2014 there was a further decrease, totaling a 33 percent reduction since 2010. There is no debating that the progress seen in this subpopulation is cause for celebration. However, as the federal goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 nears, there are some who question whether communities should be focusing on a single subpopulation at all, and if so, whether veterans are the correct subpopulation. While well intentioned, these debates are time-consuming and distract communities from focusing on what is a monumental opportunity to prove that homelessness is a solvable problem.

For decades, advocates have noted that limited resources allowed no real opportunity for a substantive decline in homelessness. As a result, our nation’s response to homelessness was to manage the issue with shelters and transitional housing. However, even after the introduction of the Housing First model and supportive housing strategies, the homeless population did not decline. An overall lack of affordable housing, an insufficient number of housing vouchers, declining investment in public housing, and no consistent resources for prevention or rapid re-housing have caused our homeless population to increase……

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