What is the government (local or federal) doing to find permanent housing for veterans?
The federal government has joined forces with multiple agencies and local governments to make an effective system to correct veteran homelessness. Initially, the government took full advantage of systems and organizations that were already up and running. According to the article “Ending Veteran Homelessness” by The Frederick News-Post, “...the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Housing and Urban Development. Both agencies use existing offices and programs, such as Section 8 and VA supportive housing vouchers, to help homeless vets with housing.” In 2014, the Obama administration created a partnership between the VA and the HUD, which allowed the programs to be used at maximum capacity. This partnership played a major role in decreasing veteran homelessness by 47% since 2010, according to Gregg Zoroya from USA Today. However, this wasn’t enough to completely end veteran homelessness. As a result, the mayors of major cities, such as Houston and New Orleans, worked together with their community and with each other to create a system that effectively ended veteran homelessness in their city for good. In the article “How New Orleans…” published by The Roll Call, a popular newspaper based in Washington D.C., the author described how New Orleans was able to combine all of their resources to create a rapid-response outreach program that promises to find that veteran a permanent home within a month or so. This made New Orleans the first major city to officially end veteran homelessness, with Houston, Philadelphia and Las Vegas not far behind. Even though these systems have greatly reduced veteran homelessness by finding the veterans and helping them find a house, they do not actually provide the physical house.
How is the government getting houses for the homeless veterans?
For the most part the government has been doing two things to get the veterans homes: they provide housing vouchers and they actually build the houses. In Midway City, California, for example, the community has been renovating old shipping containers into houses for veterans. According to Theresa Walker from The Orange County Register, a local newspaper, “Fifteen of the 480-square-foot units at the two-story Jackson Street complex are earmarked for homeless veterans; an on-site manager will occupy the other unit.” The creators of the new apartments was the organization American Family Housing, an organization that has helped to create several other housing complexes for veterans. Even though building new apartment builds provides houses for a lot of veterans, there is not enough space or money to simply build every veteran a house. So, in response, LA, and many other cities, have started to provide rent vouchers for veterans in need. The rent vouchers given to veterans provide a relatively small amount of money that is used to cover some or all of the veteran’s rent. Gale Holland, a Los Angeles Times reporter stated that federal rent vouchers, partnering with the new buildings and other services, have found homes for over 8,000 homeless veterans since 2014. The combination of the two services brought unsheltered homelessness down 43% and overall veteran homelessness down 41% in one year, also according to Holland. While it is clear to see that the services are working, it is not clear as to whether or not they will continue to receive funding under the new Trump Administration.
Will All Of The Current Government Funded Systems And Organizations Continue To Receive Funding Under The New Trump Administration?
As of right now, Trump’s plan for the VA and HUD and their resulting organizations has not been made official and is, for the most part, unknown. Yet, many remain hopeful that he does not plan to shut down or reform the well oiled machine that is all of their organizations working together harmoniously. In her recent article, Gale Holland, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, reported that former VA secretary, Robert McDonald, said that “he expected the Trump administration to maintain the same level of homeless aid to Los Angeles.” While nothing is set in stone, Trump has yet to lead people to believe that he plans to shut down the partnership between the VA and HUD. During his campaign, Trump made it clear that he plans to reform the VA, however, he has not specified what he plans to do with the several organizations that were created during the Obama Administration. At least before the election, many veterans and current military members believed that Trump would do the right thing as far as the VA and veterans’ rights goes. In an article by Sarah Sicard, on a website published by HirePurpose, a veteran help organization, showed that Trump had 55% of the military vote as opposed to Clinton’s 36%. This shows that even though Trump’s plan is currently unknown, many people, including the former VA secretary along with current and past military members, believe that he will not be harmful to the organization or any of the partnerships it has created. While trying to figure out what is in store for us in the upcoming years is great, it does nothing to help us figure out why veterans are homeless in the first place.
What are the main causes of veteran homelessness?
What Are The Main Causes Of Veteran Homelessness?
One main cause of veteran homelessness are the piling up of expenses. In a speech given by Michelle Obama, one of the creators of the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, she told the story of a man who lost his arm in Vietnam and eventually, his and his wife’s medical bills became too much handle that they lost their home. She then goes on to tell the story of several other veterans whose little to non-existent income was not enough to cover the cost of various expenses. This is the situation of many of the homeless veterans all over the nation, not just the ones that caught Michelle Obama’s attention, according to Green Doors, an organization that helps find housing for any homeless person. If veterans can’t even afford their medical bills, chances are they can’t afford lawyers either. Lack of legal-aid is another main cause of veteran homelessness. Martha Bergmark and Ellen Lawton, writers for The Washington Post stated, “According to a new study from the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least five out of the top 10 problems leading to homelessness among veterans cannot be solved without legal help.” Legal help can include things as small as restoring an expired driver’s license to things as big as fighting evictions or correcting their discharge status. The same study showed that for over 6,000 homeless veterans, most are able to find a secure source of food and medical help but what they really needed was legal-aid. While knowing what causes veterans to become homeless is a step in the right direction, the next step is figure out what the common citizen can do to support the fight to end veteran homelessness.
What can the ordinary person do to help end veteran homelessness?
The first thing a person could do is to donate food or money to their local veteran’s help organization or camp. In a recent article for PBS, journalist Mitchell Riley showed that the main source of supplies, such as food and clothing, was donated by local small businesses and the public. Martin Marszalek, one of the main leaders of Camp Bravo, a homeless veteran shelter in Arizona, then went on to say that the main reason the camp is still running is because of donations from the public. Just as important, if not more, as donating funds is spreading the word about veteran homelessness and local veteran help organizations. Former homeless Iraq War veteran and the recipient of the aid from many veteran help agencies, Chris Fuentes, said in a speech at The White House,
“I think it is very important to spread the word about these great programs.”
Donating food or supplies does nothing if there aren’t veterans to use it on because they aren’t aware that the program exists and is actually helpful. That is why many people agree that spreading awareness is sometimes more important than donations.