VA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness announced preliminary results of the 2022 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count for Veterans, November 1, 2022. The PIT Count is the annual effort to estimate the number of Americans, including Veterans, without permanent housing.

The data show that on a single night in January 2022, there were 33,136 Veterans who experienced homelessness in the U.S. This reflects an 11% decrease in the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness from 2020, an average decrease of 5.5% over the past two years. It also reflects a 55.3% reduction in Veteran homelessness since 2010.

The decline follows several years where the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness remained virtually unchanged, despite having decreased significantly from 2010-2016.

As with prior years, advocates for homeless Veterans have eagerly awaited these results, which would show the ongoing effects of the pandemic on homelessness.

Sheltered vs. unsheltered homelessness

Looking deeper at the data, we see that of the Veterans counted, 19,572 experienced sheltered homelessness and 13,564 experienced unsheltered homelessness.

Veterans who experience sheltered homelessness often live in places such as emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or other supportive settings. In contrast, Veterans who experience unsheltered homelessness live in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, and literally on the street.

Making up for lost time

While the 2022 PIT Count is the second count since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the first full PIT Count. In 2021, many communities did not conduct unsheltered counts out of an abundance of caution for count volunteers and the people experiencing homelessness who would be surveyed. As a result, we did not get to see the whole picture of the state of homelessness in America for 2021.

Chart visualizing the 55.3% reduction in Veteran homelessness from 2010 to 2022.

Chart of 55.3% reduction in Veteran homelessness from 2010 to 2022

Entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, VA and its community partners continue to work tirelessly to address the urgent and evolving needs of Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Being responsive to these needs often inspired innovative changes to how homeless services were delivered.

This year, HUD encouraged communities to conduct unsheltered counts if they did not conduct an unsheltered count last year.

We believe that the 2022 results paint an accurate picture of how our renewed efforts to end Veteran homelessness are working. These efforts include:

  • Additional resources and flexibility through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the American Rescue Plan.
  • Increased flexibility and funding that allowed new shelter options in non-congregate settings.
  • Renewed momentum on re-housing Veterans, even in the face of historic challenges in the rental housing market.
  • A proactive focus on unsheltered homelessness, particularly in Los Angeles.
  • A greater focus on preventing homelessness.

Notably, these results do not reflect the additional efforts launched by VA, HUD, and USICH in 2022, including VA Secretary Denis McDonough’s goal to re-house 38,000 Veterans, HUD’s House America initiative, and the additional technical assistance and support provided to communities.

From January through September 2022, 30,914 Veterans have been placed into permanent housing. This represents over 81% of the goal, putting us on track to meet, or even exceed, our goal by the end of the year.

We believe that these efforts launched in 2022 could lead to even more progress.

The work ahead

One Veteran experiencing homelessness is one too many, let alone 33,136.

We still have much work to do.

Despite the many challenges that Veterans faced during 2021, ending Veteran homelessness remains a top priority for VA. In collaboration with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, HUD, the Department of Labor, and other federal and local partners, VA will continue to execute evidence-based approaches such as Housing First – to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans.

Not only that, but progress on Veteran homelessness shows that we have the right approach to ending all homelessness in America.

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By Monica Diaz

Executive director, VHA Homeless Programs

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Published on Nov. 3, 2022

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