49,933 veterans homeless as of 2014, including 1,443 in Georgia
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to strengthen its efforts to end veteran homelessness.
In line with his top five priorities as chairman, Isakson remarked that no veteran who served and sacrificed for our country should be without a home or necessary support.
“Today we are here to talk about veterans’ homelessness in our country, which while it is improving in terms of lessening, it is still a great problem for many, many veterans,” said Isakson.
In 2009, the VA announced its ‘Ending Veteran Homelessness Initiative,’ a five-year plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Since 2010, veteran homelessness has decreased 33 percent – a sizable decrease, but far from eradicating the problem altogether.
Isakson commended the VA as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for their efforts, but also noted that with 49,933 veterans still homeless as of 2014 – including 1,443 in Georgia – much more work needs to be done.
“From 2010 to 2014, the number of homeless veterans has decreased by a third, but when that still ends up being 49,933 veterans, that is way too many,” continued Isakson.
Currently, the VA has several programs devoted to ending veteran homelessness, including programs that work with organizations in local communities and its partnership with HUD to provide housing vouchers to veterans, while also providing them with supportive services.
Isakson noted the importance of continued cooperation between the VA, HUD and local communities to end veteran homelessness. So far, more than 700 mayors, governors and county officials across the country have signed on to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. This includes 24 Georgia mayors, in addition to the Fulton County Commissioner Chairman and the Dekalb County Chief Executive.
“There are ways in our communities that we can meet the needs of these veterans who are unique in their problems that cause the homelessness in the first place,” said Isakson, citing recent success stories in Houston and New Orleans, where local governments have announced that they have ended veteran homelessness. “These stories will help us in setting the priorities we need to set in this committee to see to it that veterans’ homelessness is a footnote in history.”
In addition, Isakson noted the need for homelessness prevention services and programs to sustain gains made by the VA’s ‘Ending Veteran Homelessness Initiative’ over the past five years.
Click here to view Isakson’s opening remarks at today’s committee hearing online.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.
Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.