Homeless Veterans Statistics - featured image

26 Shocking Homeless Veterans Statistics

By Blog

We’ve all heard the stories of how the brave who fought for safety on our streets end up sleeping on them. 

But is the situation really as bad as we’re lead to believe it is? And if so, is enough being done to rectify this sad state of affairs? 

Let’s find out! 

Today we’re sharing homeless veterans statistics with you: so you can join the fight to help keep these people safe as they fought for your own safety.   

Have you ever wondered how many veterans are homeless? Or perhaps what percentage of homeless people are veterans? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more homeless veterans facts in this article.

Fascinating Homeless Veterans Statistics Facts

  • There are currently 37,085 homeless veterans  
  • For every 1,000 veterans: 8 are homeless 
  • 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness
  • 1.4 million veterans are at risk of becoming homeless 
  • 91% of homeless veterans are male 
  • The state of California accounts for 29% of all homeless veterans 
  • 50% of veterans are over 51 years of age 
  • More than 1 in 10 veterans are diagnosed with substance abuse disorders
  • There are currently more than 78 communities providing homeless veterans with temporary housing

Homeless Stats US

Before we dive right in and tackle the unique topic at hand, let’s take a general look at the homelessness statistics of 2019, so you can better understand the homeless veterans statistics we’ll be sharing with you shortly.   

1. There are 552,830 known homeless people in the US 

(Source: The White House)

Are you wondering how many homeless in the US? As of January 2018, a reported 552,830 people were classified as homeless. It is understandably difficult to confirm this number with 100% certainty.

Most counts of homeless people are undertaken by volunteers who fan out into cities, suburbs, deserts, and forests under the cover of darkness – and a lot of the time, only those who want to be counted are.

Number of Homeless Veterans US

More than half a million people are experiencing homelessness, and 37,878 of these people are homeless veterans found across the US. Let’s take a closer look at what this number means.    

2. 10,836 homeless veterans can be found in the state of California 

(Source: HUD Exchange)

A staggering amount of the homeless veteran population is located in the state of California. 10,836 homeless veterans can be found in CA, the state with the second-highest percentage of homeless veterans is the state of Florida which has 2,543 homeless veterans.   

On the other end of the spectrum: North Dakota has only 9 homeless veterans, Guam has 14, and the Northern Mariana Islands have none.  

3. 23,312 homeless veterans are sheltered vs 14,566 unsheltered 

(Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs)

Of the 37,878 homeless veterans in the US, 23,312 homeless veterans are sheltered, whereas 14,566 are unsheltered. 

While most states see a higher number of sheltered homeless veterans, the state of California has 7,214 unsheltered homeless veterans and 3,622 who are sheltered. 

4. For every 1,000 veterans 8 of them are homeless 

(Source: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness)

On a national level, 8 out of every 1,000 veterans are currently homeless, and 1 out of every 100 are at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Homeless Veterans Statistics - photo

Homeless Veterans Demographics

Now that we know how many veterans are homeless, it’s time to take a look at WHO these people are.  

5. 91% of homeless veterans are male

(Source: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness)

91% of veterans who experience homelessness are males, while the remaining 9% of homeless veterans are females. 

6. Half of the homeless veteran population is aged 51 or older 

(Source: National Coalition of Homeless Veterans)

50% of homeless veterans are aged 51 or older, 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50, and 9% are aged 18 to 30. 

7. Approximately 45% of the homeless veteran population are African American or Hispanic  

(Source: National Coalition of Homeless Veterans)

Almost half of the homeless veteran population is made up of African American or Hispanic people. This is surprising because only 10.4% of the veteran population is African American, while 3.4% of it is Hispanic.  

8. California accounts for 29% of all homeless veterans

(Source: HUD Exchange)

More than half of the homeless veteran population stay in sheltered locations while 38% stay in unsheltered locations deemed unsuitable for human habitation. 

Homeless veterans are located all over the US with the largest population being in California. Following California are Oregon and Hawaii. 

9. 55% of homeless Veterans have disabilities  

(Source: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness)

More than half of Veterans experiencing homelessness suffer from a disability of some kind. This number is difficult to confirm as it is almost impossible to monitor health services among Veterans who seek care outside of the VA system or not at all. 

10. 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness 

(Source: We Honor Veterans)

Approximately 45% of homeless veterans have a mental illness, which is similar to the percentage found within the general population of homeless males. 

These mental illnesses include PTSD, depression, substance abuse, thoughts of suicide and issues caused by military sexual trauma (MST) 

11. 68% of homeless veterans are found in urban areas 

(Source: National Coalition of Homeless Veterans)

68% of homeless veterans are found in cities and other urban areas, while 32% are found in rural or suburban areas. 

12. 65% of homeless veterans have a history of incarceration

(Source: NCBI)

Of a sample size of 14,557 veterans who received support for homelessness, 43% reported short incarceration histories, and 22% reported long incarceration histories. 

Research suggests that homeless veterans with an incarceration history are as likely to obtain housing as veterans with no incarceration history.  

13. 57% of incarcerated veterans are violent offenders   

(Source: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans)

Because veterans have shorter criminal histories but longer average sentences, when they’re released from prison, they find the world isn’t as they left it and struggle to readjust to ‘life on the outside.’

57% of veterans are serving time for violent offenses, and more than a third of all incarcerated veterans are serving maximum sentences or life or death.  

14. 33% of homeless veterans were stationed in a war zone

(Source: National Coalition for the Homeless)

Almost 50% of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Other service periods include those who served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, and other wars, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Over 67% of homeless veterans served the US for at least three years. 

Reasons for Homelessness in Veterans

After taking a look at the above US homeless veterans statistics, you probably want to know how we ended up here. How do so many men and women who served our great nation end up without a place to call home, other than park benches and shop doorways? 

15. 252,170 veterans live beneath the poverty line

(Source: Statista)

In 2018, an estimated 252,170 veterans earned income levels that put them below the poverty line. With numbers like those, it is no surprise to hear that many veterans become homeless. 

16. 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness due to a lack of support networks 

(Source: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans)

1.4 million veterans are at risk of being homeless due to a lack of support networks. According to studies, 78% of veterans reported experiencing high levels of social support, which means that 22% of veterans feel they don’t get enough help from networks.  

17. 53% of employers feel veterans won’t have successful careers after the military 

(Source: Military Times)

A staggering 53% of employers feel veterans don’t have successful careers after the military. Whether this is due to a lack of relevant experience, education, a misinformed idea of what veterans are like, or their portrayal in the media – nobody is entirely sure.  

18. 1 in 3 veterans are unaware of VA home loans

(Source: Nations Lending Corporation)

All too often, veterans cannot afford to pay the mortgage on their homes and consequently end up homeless. This is a huge shame because the VA offers loans specifically for veterans to become homeowners. 

The benefits of a VA loan include no down payment, assistance with financing, and no private mortgage insurance premium requirement. VA home loans have helped over 22 million veterans become homeowners. 

19. In 2017, more than 666,000 veterans paid more than half of their income to rent expenses 

(Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Many veterans end up losing their homes because of a lack of affordable housing. In 2017, 666,000 veterans were living in low-income households that allocated more than 50% of their income to rent and utilities. 

20. More than 1 in 10 veterans are diagnosed with substance abuse disorders

(Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse )

When active-duty personnel leaves military service, the rates of illicit drug use increase. 3.5% of veterans reporting using marijuana, and 56.6% of veterans are more likely to misuse alcohol when compared to their civilian counterparts. 

In 2016, the rate of opioid overdoses amongst veterans was 21% with most overdoses being the result of heroin and synthetic opioids as opposed to the opioids used for pain management.    

21. 28.7% of homeless veterans previously lived with family or friends

(Source: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness)

Nearly 3 in 10 veterans who’re experiencing homelessness were residing with family and friends before becoming homeless. 

The reasons for family breakdown vary from case to case but are commonly relationship conflicts, intimate partner violence, and untreated mental health conditions, including PTSD. 

22. Unemployment rate of 3.2% among veterans

(Source: National Veterans Training Institute)

As of October 2019, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.2%, which is the 14th consecutive month with a lower rate of unemployment amongst veterans as opposed to non-veterans.  

Homeless Veterans Statistics - veteran

Decrease in Veterans Homelessness

We now know all about who our homeless veterans are and the possibilities of how they ended up in their current situations. Now it’s time to discuss what is being done to help. 

23. 2018 marks the lowest recorded number of homeless veterans

(Source: The White House)

Between 2009 and 2018, the rate of homelessness in veterans decreased by 48%. The 37,878 homeless veterans documented in 2018 was the lowest number of homeless veterans on record. 

As of January 2019, 793 of those 37,878 have found permanent housing and are no longer classed as homeless. 

24. The VA provides $1.8 billion for homeless veterans programs

(Source: The White House)

While there are many independent charities, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides $1.8 billion to programs supporting veterans homelessness as well as comprehensive mental health care and support for those abusing substances. 

Other sources of official funding include HUD, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Education, and the US Department of Labor. 

25. There are more than 78 communities for homeless veterans

(Source: Endhomelessness.org)

There are currently more than 78 communities providing homeless veterans with temporary housing, while efforts to secure more permanent housing are underway. 

These communities have effectively ended homelessness among veterans in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia. 

26. Forecast: More than $400 million in grants secured to fight against homelessness in veterans  

(Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs)

With the number of homeless veterans continuously decreasing, the future of homelessness among veterans is looking promising. $426 million in grants will be awarded to the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and this is expected to help thousands of veterans. 

FAQ

Before we wrap this article up, here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions relating to homeless veterans statistics

What percentage of homeless people are veterans?

(Source: The US Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Just under 9% of all homeless people in the US are veterans.  

How many US veterans are homeless in 2019?

(Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs)

In January of 2019, 37,085 veterans experienced homelessness. The next headcount will be taking place in January 2020

Which state has the most homeless veterans?

(Source: Statista)

With an estimated 10,836 homeless veterans calling its streets home, the state of California has the most homeless veterans.

To Sum Up

Well done on making it to the end of this article. We know that for plenty of people reading these homeless veterans statistics can be difficult after all these are the people who served our country when we needed them to. 

But every cloud has a silver lining, and the homeless veteran situation is no different. The conversation is there, plans are in place, and the support these brave people need to readjust to civilian life is provided – that’s a win in our eyes.  

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