Homelessness Among Veterans

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It is difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of homelessness because it is often complex, but you can kind of conceptualize it as individual level and system level factors. 


Individual- Level Factors

  • Mental Illness
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Lack of Stable Income/Employment
  • History of Incarceration
  • Lack of Social Support
  • Adverse Childhood Events


System-Level Factors

  • Lack of Affordable Housing
  • Lack of Economic Opportunities
  • Neighborhood Factors
  • Cultural Factors


Causes and challenges of homeless populations: Four Risk Factors

  • Relatively Few Problems
  • Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Condition
  • Substance Use Disorder, Incarceration History, and Poverty
  • Disabling Medical Condition


We can target intervention for that specific Veteran.  For example, the veteran group that has relatively few problems would probably benefit from a rapid re-housing program that has short term subsidies. While the other three groups would probably benefit from more intensive medical care and other wraparound services.  So, when we think about solutions to homelessness they need to be tailored to the individual veterans.  


The word homeless is a propaganda word.  It was designed to make you think that the people who live on the street are there because of the increase in rent, housing is scarce. If that was true, we would see a higher population on the streets in places like Beverly Hills. But we don’t, we see them in poorer neighborhoods because that is where the city leaders decided to contain the drug using, drug dealing, and drug addicted population. I think the other thing to point out is that rent has increased all over the United States including in warm cities like Miami who reduced their homeless populations. The bottom line is you have as many people living on the street as you allow. San Francisco only shelters ⅓ of its homeless population, NY shelters over 95% of its homeless population. For the simple reason it built sufficient homeless shelters and required people to stay in them. The cause and effects are multi-faceted. Each veteran is a unique case. We want to provide stable and safe environments in which they can live.

As a Veteran advocate I am looking for permanent solutions to this longstanding problem.  My goal is to work with city leaders to create appropriate shelters, and housing vouchers.

It is more than just about having somewhere to sleep.  It is about having somewhere to feel safe and supported.  We can use the VA enhanced-use lease to help homeless veterans.  The Department of Veteran Affairs had the idea of taking vacant land and vacant buildings, and to lease them to private sector developers under something called Enhanced Use Lease.  Now there is a need for housing that people can afford, with rent that are based on their income level and not driven by markets.

It is critical to have integration between support services and housing services.

Veteran Crisis Hotline 877-424-3838

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