VA has many benefits and services to assist homeless veterans. Disability benefits, education, health care, rehabilitation services, residential care, and compensated work therapy are among the services we offer to eligible veterans
One-third of adult homeless men and nearly one-quarter of all homeless adults have served in the armed forces. While there is no true measure of the number of homeless veterans, it has been estimated that fewer than 200,000 veterans may be homeless on any given night and that twice as many veterans experience homelessness during a year. Many other veterans are considered at risk because of poverty, lack of support from family and friends and precarious living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. Ninety-seven percent of homeless veterans are male and the vast majority are single. About half of all homeless veterans suffer from mental illness and more than two-thirds suffer from alcohol or drug abuse problems. Nearly 40 percent have both psychiatric and substance abuse disorders.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the only federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless people. Last year, VA provided health care services to more than 100,000 homeless veterans and provided services to 70,000 veterans in its specialized homeless programs. More than 40,000 homeless veterans receive compensation or pension benefits annually. Although limited to veterans and their dependents, VA’s major homeless programs constitute the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the country, offering a wide array of services and initiatives to help veterans recover from homelessness and live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible. Nearly three-quarters of homeless veterans we have contacted use VA health care services and 55 percent have used VA homeless services.
VA, using its own resources or in partnerships with others, has secured more than 15,000 residential rehabilitative, transitional and permanent beds for homeless veterans throughout the nation. VA spends more than one billion dollars from its health care and benefit assistance programs to assist tens of thousands of homeless and at-risk veterans. To increase this assistance, VA conducts outreach to connect homeless veterans to both mainstream and homeless-specific VA programs and benefits. These programs strive to offer a continuum of services that include:
Aggressive outreach to veterans living on the streets and in shelters who otherwise would not seek assistance;
Clinical assessment and referral for treatment of physical and psychiatric disorders, including substance abuse;
Long-term transitional residential assistance, case management and rehabilitation; and,
Employment assistance and linkage with available income supports and permanent housing.
VA has awarded more than 400 grants to public and nonprofit groups to assist homeless veterans in 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide transitional housing, service centers, and vans to provide transportation to services and employment.
VA sponsors and supports national, regional and local homeless conferences and meetings, bringing together thousands of homeless providers and advocates to discuss community planning strategies and to provide technical assistance in such areas as transitional housing, mental health and family services, and education and employment opportunities for the homeless.
VA Homeless Programs
VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program (HCHV) operates at 133 sites, where extensive outreach, physical and psychiatric health exams, treatment, referrals and ongoing case management are provided to homeless veterans with mental health problems, including substance abuse. This program assesses more than 40,000 veterans annually.