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Protecting Our Vets: Ending veterans homelessness

Sha-ron Haddock, a health care coordinator for homeless veterans explains there's a greater emphasis now on giving homeless vets a place to live first rather than waiting for long-term treatment.
Homeless, Bakersfield (FILE)
Posted at 10:56 AM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 13:56:28-05

(KERO) — When it comes to those homeless around the country one of the communities most affected is our nation's veterans.

The good news is the number of vets experiencing homelessness has been declining for more than a decade. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in January of this year, the total number of vets living without a home was 33,136. That number is 11 percent lower from January 2020, the last time a full count was done. The department also says this number has had an estimated decline of 55.3 percent since 2010.

They say they're on track to meet the goal of housing 38,000 veterans this calendar year.



Sha-ron Haddock, a health care coordinator for homeless veterans explains there's a greater emphasis now on giving homeless vets a place to live first rather than waiting for long-term treatment to be finished for possible substance abuse or mental health issues.

"The old school was, veterans had to, you know, be ready for housing. They had to, be drug-free. With housing first, we take ya. If you're ready for housing, we would get you into housing."

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough points to more money from congress funds for being a major help in finishing new homes for veterans.

"I think that the numbers, the amount of assistance that Congress has dedicated to this challenge, and that we, and that local, and state governments, have dedicated to this challenge is new. There's no question about that."

As of this year, there are more than 1,600 people struggling with homelessness in Kern County. That's according to the latest Point in Time Count at the start of the year. The local rate increased by 1.5 percent since the pandemic began.

It was found that there are more housing programs and shelter options available than in previous years according to a local committee.