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 (+/-)
# %
2011 6,689 10,094 16,783
2013 4,886 8,009 12,895 -3,888 -23.2
2015 4,309 7,002 11,311 -1,584 -12.3
2017 3,815 7,657 11,472 +161 +1.4

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 (+/-)
# %
2011 40,033 25,422 65,455
2013 34,909 20,870 55,779 -9,676 -14.8
2015 31,505 16,220 47,725 -8,054 -14.4
2017 24,690 15,366 40,056 -7,669 -16.1

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

 

California

All States, Territories, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia
Difference (+/-) Difference (+/-)
2011
2013 -3,888 -23.2 -9,676 -14.8
2015 -1,584 -12.3 -8,054 -14.4
2017 +161 +1.4 -7,669 -16.1

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
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 experiencing homelessness is assisted to quickly move into permanent housing using a Housing First approach?

2017 2018 2017 2018 2017 2018
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
Pasadena CoC yes yes yes yes no no
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
Glendale CoC yes yes yes yes yes yes
Imperial County CoC no yes yes yes no no
San Luis Obispo County CoC yes yes yes yes no no
Total “yes:” 34 37 40 39 15 11
Total “no:” 6 3 0 1 25 29
Total: 40 40 40 40 40 40

**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.

Next Steps

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:

Federal:

H.R.715 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) “Housing Our Military Servicemembers Act of 2019” or the “HOMeS Act of 2019”

H.R.165 – Improving Access to Homes for Heroes Act of 2019 “Improving Access to Homes for Heroes Act of 2019”

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.”

R.716 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) ”Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act”

R.95 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) “Homeless Veteran Families Act”

S.8 — 116th Congress (2019-2020) “Preserving Our Commitment to Homeless Veterans Act”

California:

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.

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