Veterans Three Times More Likely to Be Homeless


Burgandy Basulto is a Content Writer at NAWRB. She has a bachelor’s degree in both English and Philosophy, and a master’s degree in Philosophy. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves running, kickboxing, watching films, trying new restaurants she finds via Yelp, and experiencing other cultures during her travels.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), veterans comprise a little under nine percent of all homeless adults in the U.S., and 37,878 of veterans were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2018. Of these, 62 percent were staying in sheltered locations while 38 percent were staying in locations unsuitable for human habitation. 

Approximately 18 out of every 10,000 veterans in the United States experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018. Veterans who are in poverty or are minority veterans are three times more likely to become homeless than the general population, according to a Zulu Time report titled “A Window into the Problems Military Veterans Face” by NDILC member Erica Courtney, President of 2020vet and Zulu Time, U.S. Army Aviation, Major NATO Gender Advisor. 

Veterans comprised a higher percentage of adults in sheltered locations, at 9.1 percent, than adults in unsheltered locations, at 7.9 percent. Nearly all veterans, at 98 percent, were experiencing homelessness in households without children. Veterans in families were more likely to be sheltered than veterans in households without children—74 percent compared to 62 percent, respectively. 

In terms of gender demographic, men accounted for nine in ten veterans experiencing homelessness, at 91 percent or 34,412 individuals. A slightly higher share of unsheltered veterans were women than of sheltered veterans—10 percent compared to 8 percent.

 In terms of race and ethnicity, a higher percentage of veterans experiencing homelessness were white at 58 percent compared to all people experiencing homelessness at 49 percent. The share of unsheltered veterans who were white at 61 percent was similar to the shares of all people and individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, which were both at 59 percent. 

African Americans comprised one-third of veterans experiencing homelessness but less than 25 percent of veterans experiencing unsheltered homelessness. While African Americans comprise a smaller share of veterans experiencing homelessness than of all people experiencing homelessness, they are overrepresented as compared to their share of all U.S. veterans at 12 percent. 

Veterans experiencing homelessness were half as likely to identify as Hispanic or Latino as all people experiencing homelessness—11 percent compared to 22 percent—but were overrepresented compared to the 7 percent all U.S. veterans who were Hispanic. Hispanics make up a larger share of unsheltered homeless veterans at 15 percent.

The infographic below from the HUD shows the rate of homeless veterans by state. California has the highest rate of homeless veterans at 66.6 percent. The state has 10,836 homeless veterans and 7,214 unsheltered homeless veterans. Other states with high rates of homeless veterans includes Mississippi, Oregon, Hawaii and Washington. The lowest rates of homeless veterans are found in Wyoming, Nebraska, Rhode Island, New York and Wisconsin. 

The rising veteran homeless population is becoming a more prominent issue for policy. For instance, the Zulu Time report states that “Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced the award of $100 million in grants to local organizations that aid low- income veterans and their families nationwide. The grants will help 151 community agencies, across 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. They mark a significant addition to the $60 million in support that the VA shelled out last year — a donation which successfully aided 22,000 veterans and their families. The grants are projected to aid around 42,000 veterans who are either homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless.” 



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