The VA Focuses on Housing Homeless VeteransMonday, November 29, 2021
Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs set goals focused on homelessness among veterans in Los Angeles. The VA Secretary, Denis McDonough, believes that this initiative will spark momentum for the department and will ultimately allow them to help homeless veterans across the country.
McDonough set goals at a National Press Club conference on October 20th and vowed that all homeless veterans living in what’s known as “veterans’ row” in L.A. would be in sustainable or transitional housing by November 1st. He recently announced that the goal had been met.
The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System said that the veterans living in that encampment were placed in programs, transitional housing at hotels, and emergency shelters. By the holidays, the program is aiming to house five hundred more homeless veterans in similar locations.
Los Angeles County has more homeless veterans than anywhere else in the country, which qualified it as a good place to start for the department. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 37,252 veterans were experiencing homelessness in January of 2020. This rate is disproportionally high compared to the rest of the U.S. population. Of this group, 10% live in the Los Angeles area.
Background information is being collected for homeless veterans in the L.A. area. This collection includes what initially led to their homelessness, health problems, unemployment, and involvement in the justice system.
In 2010 and 2016, efforts cut veteran homelessness in half, according to McDonough. Which is the kind of work that he hopes the department can return to. He also insists that the department is not ignoring the rest of the country’s homeless veterans but is trying to build momentum by starting in the most impacted location.
“It is really important, in my view, that we build up momentum in L.A. to demonstrate to the country that this is, indeed, a fixable problem,” McDonough said. “I want us to get this job finished, and I think we can do it.”
The number of homeless veterans in the U.S. rose in 2017, for the first time in seven years. It also increased from 2019 to 2020, which stoked fears among advocates that the pandemic could add to the regressive trend.
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