Homelessness among veterans has decreased in Arizona

The rate of homelessness among Arizona veterans is down almost eight percent according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD estimated that in 2018 there are 893 homeless veterans, down from 970 last year resulting in a -7.9 percent change.

It is believed that this downtick could be the result of HUD’s partnership with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans find permanent homes.

In April, HUD and the VA announced they would “provide $43 million to 323 local public housing agencies (PHAs) across the country to provide a permanent home to more than 5,200 veterans experiencing homelessness.”

Called the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, it enabled veterans to find and obtain affordable, decent housing.

“Our nation’s veterans deserve more than a life on the streets,” Ben Carson, HUD Secretary said in a statement. “There is no greater responsibility than to end veteran homelessness and to make certain that those who have served our nation have a home they can call their own.”

In total, Arizona received 25 vouchers equaling $142,298. $74,219 – 15 vouchers – were provided to the Mohave County Community Services Department that partners with the Northern Arizona Health Care System and $68,078 – 10 vouchers – were provided to the Tempe Housing Authority that partners with the Phoenix VA medical facility.

However, Arizona has also had programs on the ground level to help combat homelessness among veterans.

In 2017, Governor Doug Ducey sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin requesting the VA to prioritize the construction of new Arizona State Veteran Homes, which provide nursing and rehabilitative care for aging and chronically ill veterans as well as their spouses.

“Since 2015, we have secured matching state appropriations of $19.2 million for the construction of two additional State Veterans Homes,” Governor Ducey writes in the letter. “The sooner we can secure these dollars, the sooner we can ensure our veterans are repaid for the service provided to our great nation.”

In 2014, Phoenix became the first city to announce it had eradicated chronic veteran homelessness.

Under then-Mayor Greg Stanton the city went from 222 homeless veterans to 56 in three years.

The city accomplished the goal by using a “Housing First” initiative which moved individuals into government and non-profit owned housing while also providing them with services to get back on their feet.

“This milestone accomplishment is the result of will, strategy and perseverance…Phoenix can take its place as a role model city for gratitude and care towards veterans,” Stanton said in a statement.

The push by Stanton was a part of President Barack Obama’s goal to end chronic homelessness among veterans by 2015.

There are also multiple organizations across Arizona that help veterans get off the streets and into permanent housing, learn more and/or donate to them by clicking the links below:

Emily Richardson

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