Estimate of homeless vets shows national improvement

Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, tours a unit at the Columbus Choice Neighborhood in Columbus in 2017. (Ty Wright/The New York Times)

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Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, tours a unit at the Columbus Choice Neighborhood in Columbus in 2017. (Ty Wright/The New York Times)

An annual estimate of homeless veterans show the problem is improving slightly while the number of homeless veterans in Ohio fell compared to 2018.

According to newly released national estimates, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “annual homeless assessment report” shows the total national number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2019 decreased 2.1 percent and 793 more veterans now have a roof over their heads.

The estimates are the results of thousands of local communities around the nation conducting one-night “point-in-time” estimates of the number of people experiencing homelessness — in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered locations, according to HUD.

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Overall, the number of homeless veterans in Ohio was estimated to have dropped form 749 in 2018 to 676 in 2019.

But among all those homeless veterans in Ohio, there are more unsheltered vets in 2019, the estimates show.

The latest Ohio estimate shows 610 sheltered veterans and 66 unsheltered veterans. That unsheltered number is 11 vets higher than the 2018 number, and the sheltered number is 84 vets lower than in 2018.

“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and now it’s our duty to make certain they have a home to call their own,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “We’ve made great progress in our efforts to end veteran homelessness, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure our heroes have access to affordable housing.”

This year’s estimate finds 37,085 veterans experienced homelessness in January 2019, compared to 37,878 reported in January 2018, according to HUD.

HUD estimates among the total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2019, 22,740 veterans were found in sheltered settings while volunteers counted 14,345 veterans living in places not meant for human habitation.

This year to date, more than 11,000 veterans found permanent housing and support services through HUD programs, the department said.

To date, 78 local communities and three states have declared an “effective end” to veteran homelessness, the department also said.

Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact their local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET.

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