March 6, 2008
WASHINGTON – The number of veterans homeless on a typical night has declined 21 percent in the past year, thanks to the services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its partners in community- and faith-based organizations, plus changing demographics and improvements in survey techniques.
The reduction of homeless veterans from more than 195,000 to about 154,000 was announced as Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake was elected to chair the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Peake’s election to head the council coordinating the federal response to homelessness came as VA released the fourteenth annual Community Homeless Assessment, Local Education and Networking Group (CHALENG) report on homeless veterans.
“We are seeing significant progress in the fight against homelessness,” said Peake. “This success should encourage all those concerned about homeless veterans, for it shows we can make a difference in the lives of these veterans through our services and with our community partners.”
The decline in veterans’ homelessness was attributed, in part, to VA’s success in providing more services for homeless veterans and improved coordination of federal, state and local efforts.
VA provides health care to about 100,000 homeless veterans, and compensation and pensions to nearly 40,000 annually. The Department offers homeless veterans employment assistance and help obtaining foreclosed homes and excess federal property, including clothes, footwear, blankets and other items.
The Department has already approved funding for more than 12,000 beds in transitional housing programs, and provides about 5,000 veterans each year with residential services in VA hospital-based programs.
Other factors in the decline of homeless veterans include the substantial reduction in the number of poor veterans -- from 3 million in 1990 to 1.8 million in 2000 -- and improvements in counting homeless people.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness is the coordinating entity within the federal government composed of 20 cabinet secretaries and agency heads that creates partnerships at every level of government and the private sector to end homelessness.
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