Hearing: Homelessness among veterans is declining, but goal remains elusive

Experts on homelessness and veterans testify Dec. 11, 2014 on Capitol Hill.

Veteran homelessness has been reduced 33 percent since 2009, but there is still a long way to go before the U.S. reaches “functional zero,” Congressmen and veteran service providers said Thursday in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Experts on homelessness and veterans testify Dec. 11, 2014 on Capitol Hill. From left are Baylee Crone, executive director at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; Steven R. Berg, vice president for programs and policy, National Alliance to End Homelessness; John F. Downing, chief executive officer at Soldier On; Phil Landis, president and CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego; Casey O'Donnell, chief operating officer, Impact Services Corporation and Dr. Jon Sherin, executive vice president for military communities and chief medical officer, Volunteers of America.  Rick Vasquez/Stars and Stripes

Experts on homelessness and veterans testify Dec. 11, 2014 on Capitol Hill. From left are Baylee Crone, executive director at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans; Steven R. Berg, vice president for programs and policy, National Alliance to End Homelessness; John F. Downing, chief executive officer at Soldier On; Phil Landis, president and CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego; Casey O’Donnell, chief operating officer, Impact Services Corporation and Dr. Jon Sherin, executive vice president for military communities and chief medical officer, Volunteers of America.
Rick Vasquez/Stars and Stripes

In November 2009, President Barack Obama and then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki set the ambitious goal of ending homelessness among veterans “within five years.” Since then, the stated deadline has shifted from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2015, even as the VA and groups across the country worked to quickly implement Shinseki’s comprehensive plan.

A VA inspector general report released last week shows the effort has not been flawless: The VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans missed more than 40,000 opportunities to engage with veterans because of calls going to recordings during peak hours.Find Your Job at HireVeteran.com

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said the findings would be unacceptable for any government program, but is particularly problematic for a population that faces significant challenges just to make a phone call.

The call center is not Miller’s only concern. He questioned the wisdom of having more than 20 programs “designed to get homeless veterans off the streets and provide them with housing, health care and employment assistance,” in addition to similar programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Labor.

But Baylee Crone, executive director for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, said homeless veterans are not homogenous – they have individual needs.

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One Response to "Hearing: Homelessness among veterans is declining, but goal remains elusive"

  1. David Odell  December 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Experts on homelessness ? they are wearing suits !
    The underside of bridges might be cold, but at least its free. Some of the smartest and deeply spiritual people I have met were homeless. For some, it is due to hardship, but to others it is a choice and should be recognized as a right. I am currently squatting in a foreclosure and loving it. The “experts” should try experiencing something before they get the title. Then they will gain focus.

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