State of Affairs for Homeless Veterans



Many people are not aware that nearly ten percent of the homeless population in America are military veterans.  The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released the 2012 homeless population numbers, and out of the 633,782 individuals who were living on the streets 62,619 were military veterans. 

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) website explains that America’s homeless veterans are from a broad range of wars, ranging from World War II extending to the current Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The majority of the veterans who are homeless are single men who live in urban areas. 

Some of the causes of homelessness among veterans, listed by the NCHV, are that they suffer from mental illness, prolonged unemployment, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. Oftentimes the veterans’ training, acquired in the military, does not transfer well into the civilian workforce. 

The breakdown of the homeless veteran demographics according to Veteran Affairs shows that 51% of veterans are disabled, 70% have substance abuse problems, and 50% have serious mental illnesses.

HUD’s 2012 Homeless Assistance programs estimate that Georgia has 1,094 sheltered veterans and 1,203 unsheltered veterans totaling 2,297 individuals. A sheltered homeless person is some one who regularly checks in and spends the night at homeless shelters, opposed to an unsheltered person who rarely uses such services. 

According to Athens-Clarke County point in time homeless data for 2013, 214 individuals are homeless and only 15 are veterans. 

There is good news according to HUD, in 2012 there was a national seven percent decline in homelessness among veterans. In Athens, the number of homeless veterans dropped in the 2012-2013 year, from 29 veterans living outdoors to only 15 veterans counted as homeless.

Proponents at the NCHV advocate that concerned citizens may get involved by contacting their elected officials and discuss what can be done about homeless veterans, trying to involve others who want to end veteran homelessness, and participating in local homeless coalitions.