a welcome expansion of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, helping nearly 8,000 homeless veterans find permanent housing. A few days ago, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced an additional $7.5 million to support 1,255 vets through the same program.
The funding announcement dovetails with the big homelessness news from earlier today, the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness (“Opening Doors”). Vets are at the heart of this fight, making up nearly a quarter of the nation’s homeless population. At the “Opening Doors” unveiling this morning, Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Eric Shinseki, gave a candid assessment of the challenge veteran homelessness poses to our country.
Secretary Shinseki spoke of the “downward spiral” many vets contend with after returning from duty, which can often include lack of job opportunities or substance abuse, and all too often ends in homelessness. He was honest about how solving this problem will be an uphill battle, noting, “As successful as we are in driving veteran homelessness down, the more concentrated the remaining homeless veterans will become.”
Making sure no veteran is left behind will take a coordinated, long-term effort. Luckily, it looks like that’s what the Administration has in mind. As Secretary Shinseki said, “we owe veterans a level of courage and determination that matches their own.”