Decline in Veteran Homelessness Biggest in 5 Years

Decline in Veteran Homelessness Biggest in 5 Years

HUD, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently announced preliminary results of the 2022 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count showing an 11 percent decline in veteran homelessness since early 2020, the last time a full count was conducted. This is the biggest drop in veteran homelessness in more than five years.

The data show that on a single night in January 2022, there were 33,136 veterans who were experiencing homelessness in the United States – down from 37,252 in 2020. Overall, this represents a 55.3 percent reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness since 2010.

The context: The 2022 PIT Count is the first full PIT Count since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2021, prior to the widespread availability of vaccines, many communities did not conduct unsheltered counts (counts of veterans in emergency shelters and transitional housing) in order to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, resulting in an incomplete picture of veteran homelessness in America.

Notably, the results from the PIT Count do not reflect the additional efforts launched by HUD, VA, and USICH in 2022, including VA’s goal to re-house 38,000 veterans in this calendar year. Through September, VA has placed nearly 31,000 homeless veterans into permanent housing.

One level deeper: Developing permanent long-term affordable housing is important to ending veteran homelessness, and the LIHTC program can aid in this effort. In analyzing state qualified allocation plans (QAPs) for the LIHTC program, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans found that several states include veterans in their special populations section (Massachusetts, Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming). In a QAP, states outline their housing goals, special populations, or geographies that will be given preference, and how points will be awarded for LIHTC funding through the competitive application process.

Including veterans in this section means that a property can target this subpopulation without violating public use requirements. If a state considers specific subpopulations of people to be “special needs,” this means that they have identified that this group needs to be more heavily supported or subsidized to maintain housing. For example, including veterans exiting homelessness in a state's special populations list allows the development to directly market to, or receive referrals for this group before considering other individuals of the general population.