Twenty-one Percent of Veterans in Substance Abuse Treatment Were Homeless (PDF)
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. military veterans are a large portion of homeless adults. There is a possibility that the number of homeless veterans may grow as the total number of veterans increases due to recent military conflicts. One challenge faced by many homeless veterans is substance abuse. About 70 percent of homeless veterans have a substance abuse problem.
The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) is a database of substance abuse treatment admissions. The admissions in TEDS who are veterans represent those who have chosen to seek treatment in community-based, non-Veterans Affairs facilities. In 2011, both veteran status and living arrangements were reported for about 1.3 million admissions aged 21 or older. Of these admissions, 52,427 (3.9 percent) were veterans. About one fifth of veterans in treatment (21.4 percent) were homeless. There was a higher percentage of homelessness among older veterans in treatment than among younger veterans in treatment (24.5 vs. 14.0 percent).
No Place Like Home: Addressing Poverty and Homelessness in the United States
Source: Center for American Progress
While owning a home is the cornerstone of the American Dream, growing income inequality, coupled with an affordable housing crisis, makes maintaining stable housing a challenge for millions of Americans. In his book, Making Room: The Economics of Homelessness, Columbia University Professor Brendan O’Flaherty explains, “Although homelessness in the past was a phenomenon of economic depression, much of the rise in the new homelessness has occurred in relatively prosperous times.” Through his research, he shows that around the 1980s, “an increase in inequality and a smaller middle class, made it more difficult for poor people to acquire housing that had been formerly used by the middle class.” In fact, today, almost half of the homeless population in this country work but do not earn enough income to pay for housing.
When examining the availability of low-cost housing over time, the extent to which affordable housing is a barrier today becomes clear. According to the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units than low-income renter households in 1970—6.5 million units for 6.2 million households. By 1985, there was an affordable housing shortfall of 3.3 million units. By 2011, the affordable housing shortage reached 5.3 million units. Today, only one in four households eligible for rental subsidies actually receives assistance due to overwhelming demand, forcing many families onto lengthy waiting lists.
HUD Reports Continued Decline in U.S. Homelessness Since 2010
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released its latest national estimate of homelessness in the U.S., noting reductions in every major category or subpopulation since 2010, the year the federal government established “Opening Doors,” a strategic plan to end homelessness. HUD’s 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress finds significant and measureable progress to reduce the scale of long-term or ‘chronic’ homelessness as well as homelessness experienced by Veterans and families.
HUD’s annual ‘point-in-time’ estimates measure the scope of homelessness on a single night in January of each year. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, last January’s one-night estimate reveals a 24 percent drop in homelessness among Veterans and a 16 percent reduction among individuals experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness since 2010. HUD’s estimate also found the largest decline in the number of persons in families experiencing homelessness since the Department began measuring homelessness in a standard manner in 2005.
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers, also known as the “Trauma Guide,” was created to address the psychological and mental health needs of women veterans. The guide is also a compilation of best practices aimed at improving effectiveness in engaging female veterans. Written for service providers, the guide offers observational knowledge and concrete guidelines for modifying practices with the goal of increasing re-entry outcomes.
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness includes:
+ User’s Guide
A handbook offering information on the experiences and needs of female veterans, what it means to provide trauma-informed care, and resources for staff training and education.
+ Organizational Self-Assessment for Providers Serving Female Veterans
A manual of best practices that can be integrated into daily programming for homeless female veterans.
+ Resource Lists
Compilations of provider-targeted materials, videos, and websites on a variety of topics, including: female veterans, homelessness and trauma, cultural competence, trauma-informed services, participant involvement, and self-care.
Longitudinal data suggests that the single adult homeless population is going through a demographic transition, where the overall population is aging but there are indications that a younger cohort may be emerging. Scholars Dennis P. Culhane, Stephen Metraux, Thomas Byrne, Magdi Stino, and Jay Bainbridge argue that interventions at both ends of this transition: housing the aging and increasingly infirm elements of this population while diverting at-risk younger populations from homelessness, have the potential to make a lasting reduction in this population.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought renewed attention to the needs of veterans, including the needs of homeless veterans. Researchers have found both male and female veterans to be overrepresented in the homeless population, and as the number of veterans increases due to these conflicts, there is concern that the number of homeless veterans could rise commensurately. The 2007-2009 recession and the subsequent slow economic recovery also raised concerns that homelessness could increase among all groups, including veterans.
Congress has created numerous programs that serve homeless veterans specifically, almost all of which are funded through the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These programs provide health care and rehabilitation services for homeless veterans (the Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans programs), employment assistance (Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program and Compensated Work Therapy program), and transitional housing (Grant and Per Diem program) as well as supportive services (the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program). The VA also works with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans through the HUD-VA Supported Housing Program (HUD-VASH). In the HUD-VASH program, HUD funds rental assistance through Section 8 vouchers while the VA provides supportive services. In addition, the VA and HUD have collaborated on a homelessness prevention demonstration program.
Several issues regarding veterans and homelessness have become prominent, in part because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. One issue is ending homelessness among veterans. In November 2009, the VA announced a plan to end homelessness within five years. Both the VA and HUD have taken steps to increase housing and services for homeless veterans. Funding for VA programs has increased in recent years (see Table 5) and Congress has appropriated funds to increase available units of permanent supportive housing through the HUD-VASH program (see Table 6). Congress has appropriated $350 million to support initial funding of HUD-VASH vouchers in each year from FY2008 through FY2012, enough to fund nearly 48,000 vouchers.
Another issue is the concern that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are at risk of homelessness may not receive the services they need. In addition, concerns have arisen about the needs of female veterans, whose numbers are increasing. Women veterans face challenges that could contribute to their risks of homelessness. They are more likely to have experienced sexual trauma than women in the general population and are more likely than male veterans to be single parents. Historically, few homeless programs for veterans have had the facilities to provide separate accommodations for women and women with children. In recent years, Congress and the VA have made changes to some programs in an attempt to address the needs of female veterans, including funding set asides and efforts to expand services.
Source: BMC Public Health
Homelessness and poverty are important social problems, and reducing the prevalence of homelessness and the incidence of injury and illness among people who are homeless would have significant financial, societal, and individual implications. Recent research has identified high rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among this population, but to date there has not been a review of the literature on this topic. The objective of this systematic review was to review the current state of the literature on TBI and homelessness in order to identify knowledge gaps and direct future research.
A systematic literature search was conducted in PsycINFO (1887–2012), Embase (1947–2012), and MEDLINE/Pubmed (1966–2012) to identify all published research studies on TBI and homelessness. Data on setting, sampling, outcome measures, and rate of TBI were extracted from these studies.
Eight research studies were identified. The rate of TBI among samples of persons who were homeless varied across studies, ranging from 8%-53%. Across the studies there was generally little information to adequately describe the research setting, sample sizes were small and consisted mainly of adult males, demographic information was not well described, and validated screening tools were rarely used. The methodological quality of the studies included was generally moderate and there was little information to illustrate that the studies were adequately powered or that study samples were representative of the source population. There was also an absence of qualitative studies in the literature.
The rate of TBI is higher among homeless persons who are as compared to the general population. Both descriptive and interventional studies of individuals who are homeless should include a psychometrically sound measure of history of TBI and related disability. Education of caregivers of persons who are at risk of becoming, or are homeless, should involve training on TBI. Dissemination of knowledge to key stakeholders such as people who are homeless, their families, and public policy makers is also advocated.
HUD Reports Slight Decline in Homelessness in 2012
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
On a single night last January, 633,782 people were homeless in the United States, largely unchanged from the year before. In releasing HUD’s latest national estimate of homelessness, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan cited as hopeful that even during a historic housing and economic downturn, local communities are reporting significant declines in the number of homeless veterans and those experiencing long-term chronic homelessness. Read HUD’s 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, including community-level data.
HUD’s annual ‘point-in-time’ estimate seeks to measure the scope of homelessness over the course of one night every January. Based on data reported by more than 3,000 cities and counties, last January’s estimate reveals a marginal decline in overall homelessness (-0.4%) along with a seven percent drop in homelessness among veterans and those experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board (EFS) Program provides supplemental funding to homeless services providers across the nation. EFS was first authorized by P.L. 100-77, the Stewart B. McKinney-Bruce Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Title III, McKinney-Vento Act), which became law in 1987. Eligible services include the provision of overnight shelter and served meals, assistance to food banks and pantries, one month’s rental or mortgage assistance to prevent evictions, and one month’s utility payments to prevent service cut-offs.
Since its inception, the program’s recipient organizations have provided over 2 billion meals, 241 million nights of shelter, 4.3 million rent and mortgage payments, and 5.9 million utility payments. The program is administered by the EFS National Board, which is chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and is comprised of representatives from the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, the National Council of Churches, the Salvation Army, United Jewish Communities of North America, and United Way Worldwide. Two of the program’s distinguishing features are its focus on local decision-making, and its relatively modest administrative costs.
The program was last authorized in 1994, and has been operating under authority provided by annual appropriations acts. In the past, its funding has generally increased during times of high unemployment and decreased as the unemployment rate declined. For example, in FY2008, the program received an appropriation of $200 million. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5, ARRA) temporarily increased the EFS program’s funding to $300 million for FY2009. In more recent years, the program’s funding has declined. The program received an appropriation of $200 million for FY2010, $120 million for FY2012, and $120 million for FY2012.
Although legislation providing EFS an appropriation of $120 million for FY2012 was signed into law on December 23, 2011, the distribution of the program’s funds did not begin until August 15, 2012, the latest award distribution date in the program’s history. FY2011 was also a notable year for the program because the EFS National Board changed its distribution formulas, resulting in some large jurisdictions not receiving direct funding for the first time.
The National Board’s distribution formula uses unemployment and poverty statistics to determine amounts awarded directly to communities across the nation. After notifying jurisdictions of the amount that they will be receiving, EFS Local Boards, comprised of local affiliates of the organizations represented on the National Board, at least one homeless or previously homeless person, and representatives of local government, are convened. Local Boards advertise the availability of funds, accept applications for funding, and determine which local agencies to fund and how the funds are to be used. The National Board also provides funding to State Set-aside Committees (SSA) which provide funding to jurisdictions with significant needs that may not have qualified under the National Board’s formula, or to further supplement funding to jurisdictions that received a direct award. Each state, through direct awards and SSA, receives a minimum of $250,000.
EFS, originally envisioned as a one-time emergency program, has distributed more than $3.9 billion to over 2,500 local jurisdictions and more than 12,000 local service organizations (both non-profit and governmental).
The EFS program’s rules and processes emphasize fast response, local decision-making, and local accountability. Some federal programs have emulated its local board approach for decisionmaking on the use of resources for programs for the homeless. Over the last decade, congressional oversight has occurred through annual appropriations hearings on FEMA in general.
This report examines the administrative history of the program, the evolution of its award process, and the issues that Congress may consider as the EFS program approaches its fourth decade. In particular, the report highlights recent program delays in funding and, in general, how the EFS program and its emphasis on emergency services fit into the context of the federal government’s approach to addressing homelessness.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau today released a 2010 Census special report, The Emergency and Transitional Shelter Population: 2010, providing information on people counted at emergency and transitional shelters (with sleeping facilities) for people experiencing homelessness.
In the 2010 Census, emergency and transitional shelters were defined as places where people experiencing homelessness stay overnight. Examples include missions; hotels and motels used to shelter people experiencing homelessness; shelters for children who are runaways, neglected or experiencing homelessness; and similar places known to shelter people experiencing homelessness.
The emergency and transitional shelter population is one of many types that make up the total group quarters population. People in emergency and transitional shelters were enumerated in the 2010 Census as part of the Service-Based Enumeration Operation, which also included enumeration at soup kitchens, regularly scheduled mobile food vans and targeted nonsheltered outdoor locations.
The Census Bureau stresses that this special report presents statistics for people enumerated at emergency and transitional shelters only, and should not be misconstrued as a count of the entire population experiencing homelessness. The Census Bureau does not produce or publish a total count of the homeless population. Further, it is important to recognize that there is no standard or agreed upon definition of what constitutes homelessness. Also, people experiencing homelessness can be counted and included in the census through various operations, but those operations do not separately identify, or even collect information to separately identify, people who might be experiencing homelessness.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Veteran Homelessness: VA and HUD Are Working to Improve Data on Supportive Housing Program. GAO-12-726, June 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/591905.pdf
2. VA/DOD Federal Health Care Center: Costly Information Technology Delays Continue and Evaluation Plan Lacking. GAO-12-669, June 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/591897.pdf
3. DOD Financial Management: Improvements Needed in Prompt Payment Monitoring and Reporting. GAO-12-662R, June 26.
4. Supplemental Security Income: Better Management Oversight Needed for Children’s Benefits. GAO-12-497, June 26.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/591873.pdf
+ Related Product
Supplemental Security Income: State Trends in Applications, Allowances, and Benefit Receipts for Children with Mental Impairments (GAO-12-498SP, June 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-497. GAO-12-498SP, June 26.
New GAO Reports and TestimonySource: Government Accountability Office
1. Defense Management: Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies. GAO-12-480R, May 10.
2. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute: Review of the Audit of the Financial Statements for 2011 and 2010. GAO-12-663R, May 10.
3. Security Force Assistance: Additional Actions Needed to Guide Geographic Combatant Command and Service Efforts. GAO-12-556, May 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590769.pdf
4. Homelessness: Fragmentation and Overlap in Programs Highlight the Need to Identify, Assess, and Reduce Inefficiencies. GAO-12-491, May 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590781.pdf
1. Unconventional Oil and Gas Production: Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale Development, by Anu K. Mittal, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO-12-740T, May 10.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590763.pdf
Audit of VHA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General
We conducted this audit to determine whether community agencies receiving funds from the Grant and Per Diem Program (GPDP) are providing services to homeless veterans as agreed upon in their grant agreements or authorized changes of scope. We also examined whether program funding is effectively aligned with program priorities. We found the VHA GPDP provided services to homeless veterans and had successfully assisted veterans to live independently in safe and affordable permanent housing. However, an incomplete grant application evaluation process; a lack of program safety, security, health, and welfare standards; and an inconsistent monitoring program impacted the program’s effectiveness. As a result, VHA did not ensure homeless veterans consistently received the supportive services agreed to in approved grants. In addition, funding was not effectively aligned with program goals. We recommended strengthening the grant application and evaluation process by publishing policies and standards, updating the inspection checklists, and implementing procedures to ensure grant providers had the capability to deliver services. The Under Secretary for Health concurred with our findings and recommendations and provided appropriate action plans.
+ Full Report (PDF)
The State of Homelessness in America 2012
Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness
The State of Homelessness in America 2012 examines homelessness between 2009 and 2011, a period of economic downturn in the nation. The report shows that despite the bad economy, homelessness decreased by 1 percent during this period. The decrease was likely due to a significant investment of federal resources to prevent homelessness and quickly re-house people who did become homeless. The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) was a $1.5 billion federal effort to prevent a recession-related increase in homelessness. It was built upon ground-breaking work at the federal level and in jurisdictions across the nation to improve the homelessness system by adopting evidence-based, cost effective interventions. In 2010, its first year of operation, it assisted nearly 700,000 at-risk and homeless people. This report provides evidence that it was successful in achieving its goal of preventing a significant increase in homelessness.