November 11th is Veterans’ Day and what better time to discuss the prevalence of homelessness among veterans and their families. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, nearly 50,000 veterans were homeless in January 2014. Between 2013 and 2014, homelessness among veterans declined by 11 percent, translating to 5,846 fewer homeless people; between 2009 and 2014, homelessness among veterans declined by 33 percent, or 24,117 fewer homeless people.
According to the South Carolina Homeless Point in Time Count 2013 Results, 596 (12%) of the 5,005 adults identified as homeless on the single night reported they were veterans.
There are several federal initiatives and organizations across the state that are working towards ending homelessness among our veteran population:
One-Eighty Place: Provides veteran services to both men and women who have served, or live with a spouse who has served, in the military. Its new homeless services center will have 40 beds dedicated to male veterans, and One-Eighty Place is the only homeless organization in South Carolina with beds dedicated to female veterans.
Family Services: FSI provides supportive services for very low-income veterans in the Charleston tri-county area who are currently homeless or need assistance to avoid homelessness. It provides supportive services and temporary financial assistance with the end goal of helping veterans reach financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Stand Down for Homelessness: This annual event, held at various locations across the country, provides an array of services to local veterans, many of whom are homeless. North Charleston and Columbia both hosted events in 2014.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded South Carolina nearly $450,000 in the form of rental vouchers for local public housing agencies that will provide permanent housing to 95 veterans.
The Veterans Affairs Administration awarded $2 million to seven South Carolina counties to assist homeless veterans; selected counties include Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton. The money will serve veteran families who work with One-Eighty Place, one of more than 300 community agencies nationwide that participates in the VA program, Supportive Services for Veteran Families.
As evidenced above, South Carolina is committed to decreasing the prevalence of homelessness among veterans and will continue to work until all veterans have a safe, affordable place to call home.