The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Thursday that it surpassed its 2022 goals for housing veterans experiencing homelessness.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough set a goal of housing 38,000 veterans by the end of last year. The agency said 40,401 veterans were permanently housed, exceeding the goal by 6.3%.
McDonough said ending veteran homelessness was a top priority. “We at VA will not rest until the phrase ‘homeless Veteran’ is a thing of the past,” he said in a news release.
The number of veterans experiencing homelessness in the U.S. has decreased by 11% since January 2020 and by more than 55% since 2010, according to the VA.
In a call with reporters, Monica Diaz, the executive director of the Veterans Health Administration Homeless Programs Office, attributed the agency’s success to efficient use of subsidies and what she called an evidence-based, housing-first approach to ending homelessness. The method prioritizes getting veterans into housing, then providing support services, including health care and job training, as well as any needed mental health or substance dependency interventions to help veterans stay in housing.
Diaz also said her office has implemented a robust homelessness prevention program that seeks out veterans who may be at risk of falling into homelessness and offers support services to help them avoid it.
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In an interview ahead of Veterans Day last year, McDonough touted the approach and credited the American people’s generosity as a key factor in meeting his housing goals and keeping veterans housed.
“We have the resources to begin to address those challenges with wraparound services,” McDonough said. “So the reason the vet was homeless in the first place gets addressed. Using that, I am confident we will get to zero.”
Diaz told reporters her office is also tracking the veterans who have been helped into housing to ensure they stay in their new homes. She said the VA is working on establishing new goals to house even more veterans in the future.
Veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness can call the National Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).