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Point-in-time count to reveal numbers of homeless Veterans

It’s a new year, but VA’s goal remains: to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. In January, VA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and partner organizations across the country are doing their part to provide VA with the data it needs to reach Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and deliver the support and benefits they’ve earned.

On a single night in January 2011, the point-in-time (PIT) count found 67,495 Veterans were homeless in the United States. With 2012 just underway, HUD is overseeing nationwide efforts to collect information on individuals and families experiencing homelessness on a single night in the new year.

These PIT counts will take place in communities across the country over the next week. Local homeless planning networks organize community volunteers into groups who work with a trained homeless outreach professional. For one night, these groups will canvass their communities, counting all homeless individuals and families and conducting surveys about their experiences and backgrounds.

The 2012 PIT counts will include both sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. The counts will also include data on subpopulations such as Veterans, chronically homeless people and unaccompanied children

The data collected on the number and characteristics of individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a critical part of VA’s national and local planning and program development to prevent and end Veteran homelessness.

Since 2007, PIT counts have been performed at least once every two years (in odd calendar years) during the last ten days in January, planned in advance collectively by local VA resources and the surrounding communities. Previously, data on numbers of homeless Veterans often differed across sources, due to varying collection methods. This is the second year that HUD and VA will be using the HUD PIT count as its definitive federal estimate of Veteran homelessness.

The 2012 count is coming on the heels of a successful year of collaboration between HUD and VA—a year in which VA, under the leadership of Secretary Shinseki and President Obama, publicly kicked off the campaign to end Veteran homelessness by 2015 with events in 28 cities across the United States. According to the PIT count, the homeless Veteran population declined 12 percent in 2011, and VA is making $100 million in grants available to community agencies nationwide to prevent Veterans and their families from falling into homelessness. The funds are offered for fiscal year 2012 through VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, a homeless-prevention and rapid re-housing program.  

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