While probably few people would argue that veterans who served our country do not deserve to homeless, prioritizing the population has in some cases meant that non-veteran individuals and families have been less of a focus of funding and services.
“There’s no question that the focus on homeless veterans and homeless adults is the priority, and it has come at the expense of attention for children and for youths. It’s clear in the appropriations requests, it’s clear in the budget, and it’s clear in the way local communities have been forced to prioritize their programs.”
And in the urgency to end veterans homelessness, there are reports that in some communities, homeless veterans are being housed but without the support that the need to remain in and succeed in housing.
“We found that when you put homeless in rapid rehousing without sufficient income, when time runs out, they’re back on the streets again. Sometimes, we’re setting people up for failure. There’s more that needs to be done than giving someone a key.”
As an example of one veteran’s experience moving into housing in Los Angeles, on his 55th birthday, veteran John “Turtle” Snetselaar “Moved in to a small efficiency on the top floor of an old building in a heavily Latino part of the city near MacArthur Park.
‘That’s great, but I can’t afford anything, ‘I got nothing.’ He still has no furniture. He sleeps on the floor in a walk-in closet. A giant American flag doubles as a curtain over one window. The place is sparse but tidy.
He gets $736 a month in medical benefits from the VA. Almost half of that goes to pay his share of the rent. ‘I’m still waiting for furniture from AmVets. I have no bed to sleep on.’”