Military Life Veterans

The VA wants to house 41,000 homeless veterans this year

The department will also reach out to 40,000 other veterans to connect them with services.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 20: Tents that shelter homeless people line the sidewalk on January 20, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)

The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to permanently house 41,000 homeless veterans this year. The VA publicly shared its goal Thursday, March 14, promising to make sure it had enough staff and resources in order to reach that number. 

It’s an ambitious goal, with a target of 3,000 more veterans than the VA set for itself last year. The scale of the undertaking was something VA Deputy Secretary Tanya Bradsher acknowledged while giving the announcement on Thursday.

“We’ve made progress in recent years in tackling this problem, but there’s still a long way to go — and that’s why we’re setting these aggressive goals,” she said. “We will not rest until every veteran has a safe, stable place to call home in this country they swore to defend.”

The VA intends to do this through a series of housing measures, from financial assistance to services designed to help those who do get housed stay housed. Although many factors contribute to homelessness, the overwhelming cause of someone falling into homelessness is the cost of housing. This fiscal year the VA has $3.1 billion  allocated for combating homelessness, in the forms of direct rental assistance, housing vouchers and supportive services. It also has housing units on VA property it can use to house veterans. 

Since 2020, veteran homelessness has been in decline overall. This past year the number rose. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s data for 2023 found there were 35,574 veterans experiencing homelessness, according to point-in-time counts conducted in early 2023, up 7.4%. That was part of the overall number of approximately 653,000 people experiencing homelessness at that time. Data from 2024 is still being compiled. 

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As with overall homelessness, many veterans fall into homelessness temporarily, with rapid rehousing, family and friends or other assistance helping them bounce back. Long-term or repeated experiences with homelessness lead to what is termed “chronic homelessness.” As part of the VA’s goals, it aims to make sure that 95% of veterans placed into permanent housing do not end up back on the streets. 

“Whenever we get into contact with a homeless Veteran, our first priority is to get them into the housing they deserve,” Bradsher said. “Then we work to provide them with the tools they need to stay housed — including health care, job training, legal and education assistance, and more. That’s how we’ll meet and exceed these goals in 2024.”

The VA also plans to do outreach efforts to reach an additional 40,000 veterans experiencing homelessness this year. That campaign will involve connected homeless veterans with services and providing information on housing programs. 

In its announcement, the department singled out the Los Angeles area with a specific goal of housing at least 1,605 veterans. Los Angeles County has one of the highest numbers of unhoused people, with 3,878 unhoused veterans out of a total unhoused population of 71,320 according to 2023 point-in-time count results. The 387-acre West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus is currently the subject of legal battles over housing. Despite a previous 2015 legal settlement to build 1,200 housing units by 2030, only a few hundred have been built so far. In December, a federal judge cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit brought by veterans demanding that the VA rapidly build nearly 4,000 new housing units on the campus or leased apartments nearby for unhoused veterans. 

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