In 2016, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) estimated that on any given night there were over 40,000 homeless veterans sleeping on American streets. There are more than 700 homeless veterans in greater Atlanta on any given night. About one-third of the adult homeless population in the US are veterans.
While only 8% of Americans are veterans, 17% of our homeless population is made up of veterans. The number of homeless female veterans is on the rise: in 2006, there were 150 homeless female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; in 2011, there were 1,700. That same year, 18% of homeless veterans assisted by the VA were women. Comparison studies conducted by HUD show that female veterans are two to three times more likely to be homeless than any other group in the US adult population. Veterans between the ages of 18 and 30 are twice as likely as adults in the general population to be homeless, and the risk of homelessness increases significantly among young veterans who are poor.
Roughly 56% of all homeless veterans are African-American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8% and 15.4% of the U.S. population respectively. About 53% of individual homeless veterans have disabilities, compared with 41%of homeless non-veteran individuals. Half
suffer from mental illness; PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Traumatic Braining Injury (TBI). Two-thirds suffer from substance abuse problems; and many from dual diagnosis (which is defined as a person struggling with both mental illness and a substance abuse problem). As a result, many veterans are engaged through the Veterans Treatment Court due to behavioral issues which often result in them facing legal challenges.
Homeless veterans tend to experience homelessness longer than their non-veteran peers: Veterans spend an average of nearly six years homeless, compared to four years reported among non-veterans.
Three times as many veterans currently struggle with excessive rent burdens face an increased risk of becoming homeless...
Women veterans and those with disabilities including post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are more likely to become homeless, and a higher percentage of veterans returning from the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have these characteristics.
The Atlanta Veterans Association provides assistance and support to veterans through our Homeless Heroes program.