Homelessness in the world is a huge problem. Most homeless people live in abandoned buildings, cars, buses, in some community parks and under bridges. Most homeless people can barely come up with enough money to eat every day and some people rely on others food and leftovers to live. Different agencies define homeless differently.
Health centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) use the following to define homelessness- “An individual who lacks housing including an individual whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility (e.g., shelters) that provides temporary living accommodations, and an individual who is a resident in transitional housing. Also, if a person is “doubled up,” a term that refers to a situation where individuals are unable to maintain their housing situation and are forced to stay with a series of friends and/or extended family members. In addition, previously homeless individuals who are to be released from a prison or a hospital may be considered homeless if they do not have a stable housing situation to which they can return.”
According to some programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) they have a more limited definition; “An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, An individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements, An individual who resided in a shelter or place not meant for human habitation and who is exiting an institution where he or she temporarily resided, An individual or family who will imminently lose their housing has no subsequent residence identified; and lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing.”
There are many reasons as to why someone will be homeless, and some reasons do not apply to everyone. Around the USA there are many people and organizations trying to help US veterans get off the streets and/or get the proper help they can to get a steady job which equals steady income which helps with housing and less homeless people. There are many reasons why people are homeless. Some people are homeless just because a natural disaster made their house unsafe to live in.
In the United States natural disasters such as hurricanes Maria, Irma, Harvey, and Nate as well as wildfires in the west in the past couple years have caused people to leave their houses. Some people live in a state or city that is not affordable for just one person with a low paying job. For veterans many suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder which is when a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. When they come back to the US they have changed and mostly for the worse. PTSD can lead to substance abuse and alcoholism. That can also lead to a lack of family and social support networks. Also, many veterans have a certain skillset and training that is not always transferable to the regular workforce.
Some veterans have so many health issues and medical bills that they can afford housing. 552,830 people were homeless on a single night in January 2018 according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment report. 37,878 veterans were experiencing homelessness in the U.S. that is just under nine percent of all homeless adults. Most people stayed in sheltered locations (358,363) while 194,467 stayed in unsheltered locations. 62% of veterans stayed in sheltered locations and 38% were staying in places not suitable for human habitation. Two in three people that were homeless were adults without kids while veterans that number was 98% of that had no kids. Around 18 out of every 10,00 veterans in the United States experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018. California has the largest number of homeless veterans in the US. They account for about 30% of all veterans experiencing homelessness. According to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, 10,836 people were homeless in California on a single night in 2018.
This is because the cost of living is so high that many people can’t afford it. People just live under bridges, and in homeless camps. Any place that gets them away from the wind, rain and any other weather event that will affect them. In California the cost of living is the 4th highest because most places have famous people or people that work in “Hollywood and the tech industry are both largely centered in California.” (15 states) People that work in these industries make a lot of money and are well off and so they want the most expensive things and houses. In Los Angeles City & County, CA there were 3,538 Veterans that had homeless people according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. Also, in San Diego City and County, CA there were 1,312 people homeless according to the same report.
In those two places in California there were 4,850 veterans homeless. That is almost half of the homeless veterans in California. There are also more people in those two areas than any other state. Los Angeles has a population of four million people. Los Angeles is also the second largest city in the United States. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the us. San Diego has a population of 1.42 million. The United states has a lot of programs that help homeless veterans and their situations. To help with housing homeless veterans there are the following programs set up. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) is a “collaborative program between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Virginia that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help homeless veterans find and keep permanent housing.”(VHA office of mental health)
For Veterans that are very low-income SSVF or Supportive services for Veteran families “provides case management and supportive services to prevent veterans from losing their home or help them and their families to find a new, more suitable housing situation, they also help to quickly rehouse veterans and their families who are homeless and might remain homeless without this assistance.”(VHA office of mental health) The Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program helps “state, local and tribal governments and nonprofits receive grants and per diem payments to develop and operate transitional housing and/or service centers for veterans who are homeless.” (VHA office of mental health) According to the VHA office of mental health “Virginia funds an estimated 600 agencies that provide over 14,500 beds for eligible Veterans.” The Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV) Program helps with “the residential care for sheltered and unsheltered Veterans with multiple challenges, illnesses or rehabilitative care needs.
This includes medical, psychiatric, vocational, educational or social services.” (VHA office of mental health) To help get homeless veterans back into a reliable and stable job there are the following programs. Under the Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services (HVCES) “every VA Medical Center has received funding to hire new vocational development specialists who are serving as Community Employment Coordinators (CECs) to boost employment outcomes for Veterans who are homeless or at risk.” (VHA office of mental health) Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) “assists homeless veterans in returning to an actual job. Veterans in CWT are paid at least the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is the higher one. To give homeless veterans health care they would not have there are these programs.” (VHA office of mental health)
The Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) helps “transition Veterans that go from living on the street to stable housing situations get residential treatment services and they also help with case management.” (VHA office of mental health) Homeless Patient Aligned Care Teams (H-PACTs) Program helps “provide a medical home tailored to the needs of homeless veterans.” (VHA office of mental health) Homeless Veterans Dental Program provides homeless veterans with dental treatment through programs listed above. Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) “tries to prevent homelessness by helping justice-involved Veterans who have mental health or substance use issues access needed VA clinical services.” (VHA office of mental health) Health Care for Reentry Veterans (HCRV) help transition veterans from prison back to the community. That is just government programs that help the homeless. There are many organizations out there that help veterans in many ways.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) is a major part in helping veterans each year. They are a “resource and technical assistance center for a national network of community-based service providers and local, state and federal agencies that provide emergency and supportive housing, food, health services, job training and placement assistance, legal aid and case management support for hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans each year.” (Who is NCHV?) NCHV also “serves as the primary liaison between the nation’s care providers, Congress, and the executive branch agencies charged with helping them succeed in their work.” (Who is NCHV) The Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military following September 11, 2001.
In Virginia I have personally seen this organization in action, they have hosted countless golf tournament and fund raisers for veterans. The Fisher House Foundation builds homes were veterans can stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital. According to their website “they served more than 32,000 families in 2018 and they have helped more than 368,000 since inception.” (fisher house) They also give scholarships and they “have given 12,00 students 24,000,000 in scholarship awards.” (fisher house) They not only give veterans homes they also help with airline tickets and “have given over 70,000 airline tickets worth nearly $105 million by Hero Miles to services members and their families.” (fisher house)
Another organization that helps veterans is Hire Heroes, they help veterans with getting jobs and the right training for no cost. Some veterans don’t have the experience with job interviews and how the job search works. So, hire heroes coaches veterans and has mock interviews to help them prepare for the job. Another organization that helps homeless people is the salvation army, they provide emergency shelters when the weather is extremely hot, unbearably cold or dangerous to live on the street. The Salvation Army homeless shelter provides a safe place to eat, sleep and shower at no cost. They also provide Rehabilitation centers for people battling PTSD and drug and alcohol addiction. Personally, I have done things to help homeless people.
I have spent time on Christmas and made a bunch of food and delivered it to them in Austin, Texas. I have also helped my local church with Feeding Friends. This is something that really helps them. We would meet at the church and make food and get donations like clothes and blankets and then we would go to the homeless camps where the people were living in tents and hand out the food and clothes. People like my church are good examples of people and local organizations helping the homeless. As an Eagle scout in Boy Scouts, I have also been involved in scouting for food. My troop and troops all around the US gather a bunch of can foods and food that is easy to make, and we would sort it and give them back to people in need.
- Homeless Hub: Solutions
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Homelessness Programs
- National Alliance to End Homelessness
- National Health Care for the Homeless Council: FAQ
- National Library of Medicine: Health Care Utilization Among Homeless Individuals with Mental Illnesses
- National Coalition for the Homeless