Ending Homelessness among Veterans in California has Decelerated during this Decade
–Homelessness among veterans decreased significantly
during the first half of this decade but appears to
be increasing slightly during the second half–
–Three-fourths of California Continuums of Care (CoCs) recently
reported not having sufficient resources to ensure each
veteran is assisted to quickly move into permanent
housing using a Housing First approach
as noted by CoCs in table 4 below–
–Read about increasing federal and state legislation for veterans below–
As we await the 2019 homeless count data results, we may see point-in-time homelessness among veterans increase once again. The 2017 homeless count data revealed that homelessness among veterans in California slightly increased when compared to the 2015 homeless count data, which is in contrast to the decreases reported during the first half of this decade as noted in table 1 below.
(Note: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not require CoCs to complete an unsheltered count every year but requires it every other year (odd number years). Several California CoCs do not complete an annual unsheltered count, so data in the tables below are for odd number years only).
Table 1. Point-in-Time Homeless Count Results for California CoCs: 2011 – 2017
|Year of Count||Sheltered||Unsheltered||Total||Difference (+/-)|
The increase during the second half of this decade is also in contrast to the decreases reported during this decade for all states, territories, Puerto Rico, and District of Columbia as noted in the next table.
Table 2. Point-in-Time Homeless Count Results for CoCs in All States, Territories, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia: 2011 – 2017
|Year of Count||Sheltered||Unsheltered||Total||Difference (+/-)|
A side-by-side comparison of California with all states, territories, Puerto Rico, and District of Columbia shows that California reported a much larger decrease in homelessness among veterans in 2013 compared to all states, territories, Puerto Rico, and District of Columbia but reported an increase in 2017 (+1.4%) while the decrease grew to 16.1% for all states, territories, Puerto Rico, and District of Columbia in 2017.
Table 3. Comparison of Point-in-Time Homeless Count Results between California CoCs and CoCs in All States, Territories, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia: 2011 – 2017
Year of Count
|All States, Territories, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia|
|Difference (+/-)||Difference (+/-)|
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asked Continuums of Care (CoCs) the following three questions within a subsection of the 2017 and 2018 Continuum of Care (CoC) Program applications that focused on progress towards ending homelessness among veterans:
- Does the CoC use an active list or by name list to identify all Veterans experiencing homelessness in the CoC?
- Is the CoC actively working with the VA and VA-funded programs to achieve the benchmarks and criteria for ending Veteran homelessness?
- Does the CoC have sufficient resources to ensure each Veteran is assisted to quickly move into permanent housing using a Housing First approach?
As noted in table 4 below,
- nearly all of the 40 California CoCs answered “yes” to the first question about using “an active list or by name list to identify all Veterans in 2017 and in 2018;
- All (100%) of the 40 California CoCs answered “yes” to the second question about “actively working with the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) and VA-funded programs in 2017 and all but one in 2018;”
- Nearly three-fourths (72.5%) of the 40 California CoCs answered “no” to the third question about “having sufficient resources” to quickly move each veteran “into permanent housing using a Housing First approach” in 2018, which is an increase when compared to 2017, when nearly two-thirds answered “no.”
Table 4. Answers to Questions regarding veterans in 2017 and 2018 CoC Program applications by California Continuums of Care in 2017.**
Continuums of Care
Does the CoC use an active list or by name list to identify all Veterans experiencing
Is the CoC actively working with the VA and VA-funded programs to achieve the
Does the CoC have sufficient resources to ensure each Veteran experiencing homelessness is assisted to quickly move into permanent housing using a Housing First approach?
|San Jose/Santa Clara City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|San Francisco CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Oakland, Berkeley/Alameda County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Sacramento City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Santa Rosa, Petaluma/Sonoma County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Richmond/Contra Costa County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Salinas/Monterey, San Benito Counties CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Marin County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Watsonville/Santa Cruz City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Mendocino County CoC||yes||no||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Turlock, Modesto/Stanislaus County CoC||no||no||yes||yes||no||no|
|Stockton/San Joaquin County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Daly City/San Mateo County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Visalia/Kings, Tulare Counties CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Fresno City & County/Madera County CoC||yes||yes||yes||no||yes||yes|
|Roseville, Rocklin/Placer, Nevada Counties||no||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Redding/Shasta County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Napa City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Vallejo/Solano County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Chico, Paradise/Butte County CoC||no||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Merced City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Davis, Woodland/Yolo County CoC||no||no||yes||yes||no||no|
|Humboldt County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|Colusa, Glen, Trinity Counties CoC***||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Yuba City/Sutter County CoC||no||yes||yes||yes||yes||no|
|El Dorado County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Tuolumne, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa Counties CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Tehama County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Lake County CoC***||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Alpine, Inyo, Mono Counties CoC***||–||yes||–||yes||–||no|
|Los Angeles City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|San Diego City and County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Santa Ana, Anaheim/Orange County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||yes|
|Santa Maria/Santa Barbara County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||yes|
|Bakersfield/Kern County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Long Beach CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Riverside City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|San Bernardino City & County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Oxnard, San Buenaventura/Ventura County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|Imperial County CoC||no||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
|San Luis Obispo County CoC||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
**For total number of homeless persons for each CoC go to www.hudexchange.info/programs/coc/coc-homeless-populations-and-subpopulations-reports/.
***CoC did not submit a 2017 and 2018 CoC Program application. Alpine, Inyo, Mono Counties CoC did submit a 2018 application but was not included in the total of “yes” and “no” answers in Table 2.
Knowing why some CoCs answered “yes” when asked—“Does the CoC have sufficient resources to ensure each Veteran is assisted to quickly move into permanent housing using a Housing First approach?—and why some answered “no” would help answer the immediate questions that come to mind after reading the results noted above.
Often CoCs struggle to find both available units and rental subsidies for the units for persons who are homeless. However, due to the increasing number of HUD-VASH and SSVF programs, rental subsidies are often readily available for homeless veterans. Therefore, available units may be why some CoCs answered “no” regarding sufficient resources for homeless veterans and not rental subsidies.
There is an increasing number of federal and California state legislative bills that will likely increase permanent housing and supportive services for veterans if passed. Such legislation includes:
S.514 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) “A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to women veterans, and for other purposes.”
H.Con.Res.13 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) “Recognizing the difficult challenges Black veterans faced when returning home after serving in the Armed Forces, their heroic military sacrifices, and their patriotism in fighting for equal rights and for the dignity of a people and a Nation.”
California CoCs are well aware of the best and promising practices to end homelessness among veterans in their communities. Such practices include:
- Street outreach and engagement;
- Coordinated Entry Systems;
- Housing Navigation;
- Landlord mediation funds;
- Rapid Rehousing; and
- Permanent supportive housing.
California CoCs are also well aware of two successful programs to help prevent and end homelessness among veterans, which are the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. Funding for these programs have been received by many agencies that are key members of California CoCs.
However, California CoCs need to be progressively aware of increasing federal and state legislation creating more and more resources for permanent and supportive services for veterans who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. In order to reach the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, it is essential for federal, state, and local CoCs to collaborate and share information about the progress of federal and state legislation. Increased collaboration can be furthered developed when approved legislation is enacted and more and more local resources for housing and services for veterans become available that can strengthen partnerships between federal, state, and local CoCs.