As part of the annual homeless count held each winter by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, NPR correspondent Quil Lawrence hit the streets last night in New York City.
He accompanied volunteers during their “point-in-time” survey looking for and counting the homeless at parks and in the train station.
After a night out, Lawrence said he only met one homeless man who said he was a veteran. But the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that there are 150,000 homeless veterans at any one time.
It’s also estimated about 1 percent of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars become homeless. But the VA changed its approach offering “housing first” which is now drawing down the number of homeless and preventing others at risk from slipping into homelessness.
Recently, Phoenix became the first city to declare it had ended homelessness among veterans which is a stated goal of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Florida is one of the top “hot spots” for homeless veterans making it the focus of VA officials who have the stated goal of ending veteran homelessness by December 2015. The other states where veteran homelessness is considered a problem are Texas, California and New York.
Listen to Quil Lawrence’s full report.