According to the president of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, we have the lowest count of homeless vets in history. At the same time, many in Congress are not sure they want to continue funding to this program when it comes up for renewal.
Not funding this program would be tragic since a great many of the people that are homeless should probably have been diagnosed with PTSD – unfortunately, we didn’t have as much understanding of PTSD when we left Vietnam as we do now.
Since 2010, the Obama administration has spent $4 billion hiring thousands of staff workers, expanding social services and medical programs, and renting thousands of apartments, seeking to fulfill a pledge by Eric Shinseki, the former secretary of Veterans Affairs, to end veterans’ homelessness by the end of next year.
By most accounts, the effort has made significant strides, placing 51,000 veterans in housing and establishing what advocates for the homeless say is a promising model that gives veterans the stability of housing before tackling underlying problems with drugs or mental health.
But with a little more than a year to go, few experts believe the department will come close to meeting Mr. Shinseki’s deadline. An estimated 50,000 veterans are still homeless; Mr. Shinseki, the driving force behind the initiative, is now gone, forced to resign amid the department’s health care scandal; and some Republicans in Congress question whether the department has spent its money wisely on the program.
There are also concerns that Congress, despite bipartisan support in the past, will not continue to finance the program at its current level.
“There has been an incredible outlay of resources, and other than V.A.’s own statistics, we really don’t have specifics as to the program’s effectiveness, outcomes and sustainability,” said Representative Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican who is chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He said the committee planned to hold a hearing this fall to examine the program.