Senate, House Veterans’ Affairs Leaders Statements on Annual Veterans Homelessness Data

Report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development showed ten percent decrease in sheltered veterans homelessness since 2020

Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee leaders Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.), and Ranking Member Mike Bost (R-Ill.) issued statements today following an annual report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on veterans homelessness data since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, HUD releases a Point-in-Time (PIT) count of unhoused people across the United States, including veterans, however this survey was interrupted during the pandemic. The annual report informs how Congress legislates and allocates resources to best respond to and prevent veterans homelessness.

“I’m encouraged to see that our efforts to deliver resources and stronger support during the COVID-19 pandemic are putting more veterans on the path to stable housing,” said Chairman Tester. “While this is a step in the right direction, veterans can’t afford to wait another year for this data to inform what our next steps need to be. We’ve got to keep passing commonsense bills like my bipartisan Building Solutions for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness Act to secure additional resources that’ll deliver help where it’s most needed and end veterans homelessness once and for all.”

“While I’m pleased to see that progress is being made in reducing the number of homeless veterans in recent years, too many veterans still lack stable housing,” said Ranking Member Moran. “We have provided new resources and authorities for federal assistance to help veterans at risk of homelessness, and we need to make certain those resources are being used to make the biggest impact possible for homeless veterans. I am pleased to see VA working closely with HUD and other federal agencies to collect accurate current data on where homeless veterans are and how federal assistance can best help them.”

“I am so pleased to see that the number of veterans experiencing sheltered homelessness decreased by 10 percent in the last PIT count,” said Chairman Takano. “This is encouraging news that suggests that the concrete measures we have taken through the American Rescue Plan and the Isakson and Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act are working and have helped drive down veteran homelessness. As showcased in his visit to my district and the LA area last year, I know Secretary McDonough is committed to VA’s Housing First policy, and I stand ready to see how VA, Congress, and the Biden-Harris Administration can continue working together to further reduce veteran homelessness.”

“No veteran should be without a place to call home. I am glad that the most recent estimate showed fewer veterans living in homeless shelters last year. But, I remain worried about the many veterans sleeping on the streets or elsewhere who were not included in this count,” said Ranking Member Bost. “That’s why we must continue our work to ensure that the rubber is meeting the road and every veteran has access to safe, stable housing and the help they need to thrive.”

The report, based on a single night’s assessment in January 2021, is the first official HUD count since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It found a ten percent decrease in sheltered veterans homelessness since 2020—the biggest single year decrease since 2016. Data also shows that Black veterans continue to be overrepresented among veterans experiencing homelessness, making up 33 percent of the sheltered homeless veterans, but only 12 percent of the veteran population overall. This demographic also saw one of the highest rates of decline in homelessness last year with a 13.9 percent drop.

Last year, Committee leaders secured key provisions in the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, an end-of-year veterans’ package with language to remove barriers to VA funding for ending homelessness organizations in need of critical upgrades to keep homeless veterans safe from the coronavirus.