Current Policy On Veteran Homelessness Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Government - Fiscal Policy Type: Essay Paper: #41999884
Excerpt from Essay :

Current Policy



The Obama Administration had pledged to end veteran homelessness, an interesting pledge given the myriad of complex reasons why people become homeless. But they were able to make progress towards that objective. The White House announced in 2016 that it had be able to cut veteran homelessness by 47% as of 2016 (Zoroya, 2016). The number living on the street was reduced 56% during the 2010-2016 time period. This was the result of a number of different approaches, which highlight the way that policy is addressed in this area.

The project to end veteran homelessness was the result of a coordinated effort by two departments, the Bureau of Veteran Affairs (VA) and Housing & Urban Development. The VA cites three components of its plan: conducting outreach to seek out veterans in need; connecting homeless and at-risk veterans with housing solutions; and collaborating with various government agencies, employers, housing providers and nonprofits to expand employment and affordable housing options for veterans (VA, 2017). The fundamental logic of these pillars is that the VA essentially serves as a coordinating body. Its strengths lie in a) its ability to identify at-risk and homeless veterans, through its various programs that serve them and b) its extensive reach and connections with other bodies.

Some other basic facts that contribute to the types of strategies used are that homeless veterans are disproportionately African-American or Hispanic, that younger veterans are more likely to be homeless, and that many suffer from mental...
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Part of the issue in the past has been that policy was not guided by evidence. The Obama Administration was in part able to win these gains by actually using evidence in its decision-making. In the 1990s, for example, Congress cut funding for veterans with substance abuse issues, despite evidence showing no correlation between disability payments and substance abuse (Frisman & Rosenheck, 1997) -- an example of certain factions in Congress using their ignorance and hatred as a weapon against this disproportiantely minority group.

Working with other agencies is a valuable component of Obama-era policy because of the strong connections between veteran homelessness and substance abuse and mental health services. Those factors were predictors of homelessness and admittance to care programs for homeless veterans in one 1995 survey (Wenzel, et al., 1995). In other words, significant gains were made in the fight against veteran homelessness simply by tackling some of the factors -- predominantly mental illness and substance abuse -- that are known contributors to the problem. Further, one can posit that minority veterans are more susceptible to homelessness when they come from lower socio-economic starting positions; white veterans likely suffer just as much from these issues, but where there starting positions in life are better they might be able to retain homes.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) works with the VA on VA Supportive Housing (VASH), also known as the HUD-VASH program. This program provides vouchers that deliver rent assistance in private housing for veterans who are eligible for VA health services and are experiencing homelessness. There are both grant and per diem components to this plan. The VA works with over 600 different agencies that strive to place homeless veterans, and these have access to 14,500 eligible beds, which can serve as temporary housing until a permanent placement can be found. There are a variety of smaller programs that also contribute to the total…

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