We’ve got to keep up the fight to end the tragedy of Veteran homelessness. Today, I announced that, across the nation, we have now reduced the number of homeless Veterans by 47 percent – nearly half – since 2010.
– President Barack Obama, August 1, 2016
When this administration took on the challenge to end veteran homelessness, many believed that it was an unattainable goal. For decades, even some of the strongest advocates for people experiencing homelessness looked at the scope of the challenge and felt that it was intractable – that at best we would get better at treating the symptoms of homelessness but that it was a problem we cannot eradicate.
The work of state and localities in the last several years has proven us wrong. Since 2014, more than 800 mayors, governors, and other state and local officials have answered the call of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, pledging to do all they can to ensure their communities succeed. And it’s working.
A growing list of more than 35 communities, and the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia, have proven that ending Veteran homelessness is possible and sustainable. As documented through the federal Criteria and Benchmarks, they have proven that we can drive down the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness to as close to zero as possible, while also building and sustaining systems that can effectively and efficiently address Veterans’ housing crises in the future.
The national data tell the same story of remarkable progress. Thanks to unwavering commitment and partnership at the federal, state, and local levels, we’ve reduced Veteran homelessness by 47% in this country between 2010 and 2016—including a remarkable 17% reduction during 2015 alone—and achieved a 56% reduction in Veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
While we pause to celebrate our progress and the hope we have for an end to veteran homelessness nationwide, we know there is still much work to be done. Today the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has offered up some essential strategies that have gotten us this far and identified some key priorities for the work ahead.
Join us in the fight to end veteran homelessness. We have demonstrated that it’s possible and will rely on you to help us realize this vision.
We need to keep pushing forward until we are no longer asking how do we achieve this goal, but instead we’re asking how have we not? That’s the very least that we can do for our men and women in uniform.
– First Lady Michelle Obama, January 21, 2016