The number of U.S. veterans who are homeless has decreased by roughly 40% since 2011, according to data from Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Clicking the aforementioned link reveals that as of January 2016, 39,471 veterans were homeless. That’s a significant decrease, however, from 2011, when more than 65,000 veterans were homeless.
Understanding the Data
Of course, this data only goes up to 2016. It doesn’t include homeless veteran rates for 2017. With that said, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) says that Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware and 53 communities across the United States have essentially ended homelessness among their veterans. So, what does this mean exactly?
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness says a community is considered to have ended homelessness if it’s able to create permanent housing for every veteran who requests it within 90 days after that veteran has been identified as being homeless. If just one veteran is unable to find permanent housing within this period, the respective state or community cannot be classified as having “ended homelessness.” The fact that 53 communities and three states have met this criteria is pretty impressive to say the least.
Why Rates of Homeless Veterans are Decreasing
One of the reasons for this trend is the VA home loan program. According to the official VA website, VA loans had the lowest foreclosure rate in 2013, attesting to their longevity and survivability amidst a declining real estate market. As you may already know, VA loans are a special type of mortgage loan that’s guaranteed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s designed specifically for U.S. military veterans, active servicemen and women, and their spouses.
VA home loans also provide veterans with up to 103.3% financing without a private mortgage insurance. This means veterans aren’t forced to make a hefty down payment. They can acquire a mortgage that covers the entire cost of the home , condominium or multi-unit property in which they want to live.
Additionally, VA Secretary Bob McDonald explains that rates of homeless veterans has declined thanks to supportive housing like HUD-VASH and Supportive Services for Veterans Families.
“The dramatic decline in Veteran homelessness is the result of the Obama administration’s investments in permanent supportive housing solutions such as HUD-VASH and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) programs, extensive community partnerships, coordinated data and outreach and other proven strategies that put Veterans first,” said VA Secretary Bob McDonald. “Although this achievement is noteworthy, we will not rest until every Veteran in need is permanently housed.”