Veterans Experiencing Homelessness
According to Veteran Homelessness: A Supplement to the 2009 Annual Homelessness Report, released in January 2011 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmenti:
- An estimated 75,609 veterans (male and female) were homeless on a single night in January 2009.
- Roughly 160,000 veterans experienced homelessness over the course of the year (about 10% of the total homeless population).
- Roughly 44,000 to 66,000 veterans are experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Nearly one-half of all homeless veterans on a single night were located in just four states: California, Florida, New York, and Texas.
- Almost all of sheltered homeless veterans are single adults, however 4% are part of families. They tend to be younger, African-American, and female.
The FY 2009 VA CHALENG Report estimated that:
- 107,000 veterans are homeless on a given night
- There was an 85% increase in the number of veteran families experiencing homelessness from the previous yearii.
In the 1996 NSHAPC, almost 25% of homeless clients were veterans.
Age, Gender & Race/Ethnicity
Veterans experiencing homelessness in shelters tend to be single male adults, older than their non-veteran peers, more likely to have a disability, and are equally likely to be white non-Hispanic as they are to be a minorityiii. Among the sheltered homeless veteran population:
- 8.4% are between 18 and 30
- 45% are between 31 and 50
- 38.1% are between 51 and 61
- 8.9% are 62 or olderiv
- About 8% of sheltered homeless veterans are female, a number that has been increasing steadily since 2000v
- Among all homeless women in the 1996 NHSAPC, 1% were veterans as compared to 33% veterans among homeless men
- In a study of older homeless adults in Minnesota, 36% had served in the US military; 44% of older homeless men had servedvi
- 49.2% are White, non-Hispanic/non-Latino
- 34% are Black or African-American
- 8.3% are White Hispanic/Latino
- 3.4% are American Indian or Alaska Native
- 5.1% are other racesvii
Risk Factors for Homelessness Among Veterans
Less than 1% of veterans are homeless, but certain groups of veterans are at particular risk for becoming homelessviii.
- Although their numbers are small, women and people who are between the ages of 18 and 30 are subgroups of veterans who are at particularly high risk of becoming homeless.
- Rates of homelessness are higher for veterans who identify as Hispanic, African-American, and Native American than for non-minority veterans.
- Ten percent of veterans living in poverty became homeless at some point during the year, compared to only 5% of non-veterans living in poverty.
- Women veterans living in poverty are nearly 3 times more likely to be homeless than non-veteran women living in poverty
- Young veterans (ages 18 – 30) living in poverty are nearly 3 times more likely to be homeless than non-veteran adults living in poverty
- About 1 in 4 Hispanic and African-American veterans living in poverty become homelessix.
Serious Mental Illness, Traumatic Stress, & Substance Use
- About 45% of homeless veterans experience mental illness
- 70% experience alcohol or other drug abuse problems
- Many experience bothx
As the number of female and male veterans1 returning from active duty grows, those who experience homelessness may suffer from combat-related trauma, military sexual trauma, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in addition other traumatic stressors.
- Among veterans screened for TBI, over 80% had psychiatric diagnosesxi
- Compared to those who screened negative for TBI, those who screened positive2 also had PTSD three times more often and depression and substance use two times more oftenxii
- Data from 2007 show that one in five (21%) women veterans screened positive for Military Sexual Trauma, as compared to 1% of men veterans
- Among veterans who screened positive for Military Sexual Trauma, the likelihood of a mental health diagnosis was 2-3 times greaterxiii
View the HRC's additional factsheets: