Homelessness among military veterans is an unfortunate ongoing problem in America that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and many other organizations are working to address. The good news is that progress is being made — recent data reveals that there has been an 11% reduction in veteran homelessness since 2020.

While this is a big step in the right direction, as with many complex human welfare issue much more is left to be done. In this article, we’ll discuss the assistance available for veterans who need it as well as how you can support those who have served our country.

    Statistics on Veteran Homelessness

    As of 2021, there were around 19 million veterans in the U.S. According to government statistics, around 33,000 veterans are homeless, but it’s important to note the actual number could be higher. Recent data reveals homeless veterans comprise 6.4% of the total homeless population in the U.S., which is higher than the percentage of homeless unaccompanied youth.

    States with the Highest Number of Homeless Veterans

    Below is a quick overview of states with the highest numbers of homeless veterans.

    StateNumber of Homeless Veterans
    New York990
    Source: huduser.gov

    States with the Highest Percentage of Homeless Veterans Relative to Overall Population

    Below are the states/territories with the highest percentage of homeless veterans as a portion of their total population.

    1. Oregon
    2. California
    3. Nevada
    4. Hawaii
    5. Washington, D.C.
    6. Washington
    7. Alaska
    8. Maine
    9. Vermont
    10. Montana

    The statistics we’ve cited above shine a light on the numbers of homeless veterans and where they are located. By understanding the scale of the veteran homelessness issue and the factors that contribute to it as we discuss elsewhere in this article, we can work together to support and uplift our nation’s heroes who have bravely served our country.

    Contributing Factors to Veteran Homelessness

    Studies show that due to multiple factors, veterans face a higher risk of homelessness than the general population.

    Combat Exposure and PTSD

    Veterans often deal with the aftermath of their experiences in combat, which can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues. This can make it difficult for them to maintain stable housing.

    Lack of Affordable Housing

    The lack of affordable housing is a nationwide problem with significant impact on veterans, making it harder for them to find a place to live within their means.

    Civilian Job Transition

    Nearly 200,000 veterans face challenges finding a job each year when their military service has ended. This difficulty in transitioning to civilian life also contributes to housing instability.

    Homelessness Terminology

    The topic of homelessness is complex and often involves unfamiliar terminology. To better understand the issues involved, let’s dive into some key terms and phrases.

    Key Terms and Definitions

    • Affordable Housing: The cost of housing that is considered affordable equates to 30% or less of a household’s pre-tax income
    • Adequate Housing: This term refers to housing that requires no major repairs. Inadequate housing may have toxic mold, heating or water supply issues, or significant damage
    • Capacity: Capacity refers to the ability of people, organizations, and society to manage their affairs successfully. Regarding housing and shelter, it refers to the availability of housing units and shelter beds compared to the number of people in need.
    • Case Management: Case management is a collaborative, client-centered approach to helping people experiencing homelessness access various services
    • Coordinated Assessment: Coordinated assessment is a standardized way of evaluating a person’s situation and identifying their required services. It considers background factors, changes in situation, and the status of a support system.
    • Continuum of Care (CoC): Continuum of Care refers to a collaborative network of nonprofit organizations providing services including outreach, emergency shelter, and housing assistance to people experiencing homelessness
    • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): HUD is a federal government department that collects and reports data on homelessness to Congress, sets regulations around housing and shelter programs, and allocates housing-related funding to communities across the U.S.
    • Eviction Prevention: Refers to strategies or programs usually targeted at renters and designed to keep individuals and families in their homes and help them avoid homelessness
    • Episodically Homeless: Refers to individuals who move into and out of homelessness
    • Emergency Shelter:  A temporary housing solution for individuals without a permanent residence, often provided during crises or extreme weather conditions
    • Hidden Homelessness: Hidden homelessness describes people who live temporarily with others without a guarantee of continued residency or immediate prospects for accessing permanent housing
    • Housing First: An approach that prioritizes the placement of homeless individuals into stable housing as quickly as possible without requiring them to first address other issues such as addiction or mental health 
    • NIMBY (Not in My Backyard): Refers to residents of an area who don’t want new development or changes to existing development such as might be associated with a homeless shelter, low-cost housing, or group home. 
    • Other Permanent Housing (OPH): A program that provides long-term housing without the supportive services offered by permanent supportive housing (see below).
    • Permanent Supportive Housing: Long-term housing that includes services for homeless people and their families. This type of housing provides stability to support the ability to remain in housing over time.
    • Point-in-Time Counts (PiT): Point-in-time counts are a count of homeless individuals on one specific night which provides an estimate of the total number of homeless individuals at a given time.
    • Rapid Re-housing: These programs assist homeless individuals in finding and securing permanent housing quickly, often by providing financial aid and support services
    • Street Outreach: Essential work connecting with homeless people who may feel disconnected from access to homelessness-related services
    • Transitional Housing: This temporary housing option includes support services to help homeless individuals work towards self-sufficiency and stable permanent housing
    • Transitionally Homeless: Refers to short-term homelessness, usually lasting less than a month
    • Unsheltered: Unsheltered refers to individuals living on the streets or in places not intended for human habitation, such as porches, tents, abandoned buildings, cars, or bus stops

    By familiarizing ourselves with these terms, we can better empathize with and support those facing the challenges of homelessness. Knowing relevant terms and concepts is just the tip of the iceberg but is a good starting point for understanding the complexity of homelessness.

    Where Can Homeless Veterans Find Assistance?

    So where can homeless veterans find assistance? Options are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs and nonprofit organizations. We’ll review some of these resources below. 

    National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

    First and foremost, homeless veterans can contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838). This 24/7 hotline connects veterans with trained Veterans Administration (VA) counselors who can provide information on available programs, health care, and other local services.

    HUD-VASH Program

    The HUD-VASH program is a partnership between HUD and the VA. It offers rental assistance through Housing Choice Vouchers and pairs it with VA case management and supportive services to help homeless veterans and their families secure and maintain permanent housing.

    Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)

    SSVF is a program designed to help veterans and their families who are at risk of becoming homeless or are already experiencing homelessness. It offers assistance with housing, employment, health care, and other services to support needy families.

    Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program

    The GPD Program funds community agencies that offer transitional housing and supportive services to homeless veterans. These services help veterans work towards permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

    Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans Program (DCHV)

    DCHV provides short-term residential care to homeless veterans, offering medical treatment, mental health care, and vocational assistance in a supportive environment.

    Nonprofit Organizations Assisting Homeless Veterans

    A number of nonprofit organizations also work to support homeless veterans, including:

    Shelter Beds for Homeless Veterans

    According to Housing Inventory Count Data, around 18,000 shelter beds are available for veterans across the United States, with most in transitional housing units.

    VA Loans for Veterans that Qualify

    VA loans can be an excellent option for veterans looking to purchase a home. These loans offer competitive interest rates, low- or no-down payments, and more-accessible qualification standards.

    There are various resources available to help homeless veterans find assistance and support. By reaching out and utilizing these programs, veterans can work towards stable housing and a brighter future. The most crucial step for a homeless veteran is to call 1-877-4AID-VET to connect with a trained counselor who can provide necessary information and guidance.

    How Can You Help Homeless Veterans? 

    Wondering how you can help homeless veterans? There are plenty of ways to make a difference in their lives. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans suggests some ways you can support these heroes and contribute to their well-being. Let’s have a look at them below.

    Donate to Emergency Shelters

    Consider donating personal care items, clothing, and food or making cash contributions to emergency shelters that serve homeless veterans. These donations can make a real difference in their day-to-day lives.

    Volunteer Your Time and Skills

    Share your abilities by volunteering as a mentor, advisor, or legal assistant. Your knowledge and advice can assist homeless veterans deal with their struggles and move toward stability.

    Get Involved with Stand Down Events

    Stand Down events provide homeless veterans with a secure, community-like environment where they can access essential services. By helping out at these events, you can support veterans in getting healthcare, personal care services, food, clothes, housing, job recommendations, and advice on VA benefits.

    Support Local Shelters Assisting Homeless Veterans

    Many local shelters specifically assist homeless veterans. Donate your time or money to these organizations to help them continue their crucial work.

    Advocate for Affordable Housing

    Affordable housing is a significant factor in preventing homelessness, particularly among veterans. Advocate for affordable housing in your community and support policies that create more accessible housing options for those in need.

    By getting involved in any of these ways, you can positively impact the lives of homeless veterans and help them access the resources they need to secure a brighter future.


    Addressing the issue of veteran homelessness is vital, and we can all play a part in making a difference. By better understanding the various factors contributing to homelessness among veterans, we can better support assistance programs and initiatives that help them find stable housing and reintegrate into society. While there’s still work to be done, significant progress has been made in recent years. With continued effort and collaboration, we can build a future where no veteran is left without a safe and secure home. Let’s unite to support and uplift the brave men and women who have served our country.

    Editorial Contributors
    Alexis Bennett

    Alexis Bennett


    Alexis is a freelance writer with nearly a decade of experience covering the home services industry. She’s built considerable expertise in roofing, plumbing, and HVAC, as well as general construction and real estate matters. In her free time, Alexis enjoys coaching women’s golf. She lives in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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    Alexis Curls

    Content Strategist & Digital PR Manager

    Alexis Curls is a content strategist on the Today’s Homeowner team. She specializes in home services research. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations.

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