On April 16, 2012, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition highlighted increased efforts in Los Angeles and across the country to end veterans’ homelessness and permanently house the men and women who have protected and served our country. Their news story, “A Push to Help US Veterans Fight Homelessness”, reiterates the recent statistics that have helped elevate veterans’ homelessness and the efforts to combat the problem into the news:
Last year, veterans homelessness increased 12% from the year before;
1 out of 30,000 homeless veterans have moved to supportive housing through the HUD-VASH Program over the past 3 years;
The Obama administration provided $100 million to fight veterans’ homelessness this year; but
Even with all of this progress, more than 67,000 veterans still live outside.
And the story goes beyond the numbers in profiling James Brown, a formerly homeless veteran who left the Army in 1979 and then experienced homelessness for 32 years. Brown now lives in permanent supportive housing receiving the critical services for his mental and physical health disabilities. Says Brown about his home, “I got my own lights, refrigerator, a fan,” he says.
Advocates and local officials mention the joint efforts of the federal government, local agencies and non profits working to end veterans homelessness along with critical prevention work to rapidly identify and house homeless vets but also caution that some veterans may need more assistance than a supportive housing voucher.
As we prepare for the imminent return of large numbers of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, including many who are young and many who are female, do our local communities have the necessary permanent housing, services and prevention measures in place? And if not, what are the opportunities in New Jersey to encourage local, county and state governments to partner with nonprofits to ensure that James Brown’s fellow veterans can have their own lights, refrigerators and fans.