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Homeless are often veterans

Feb. 10, 2011 at 11:11 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Young military veterans are more likely than other Americans to wind up homeless and they are likely to be members of a minority race, officials said.

The government's first detailed study of homelessness among former service members said more than 75,000 veterans were living on the streets or in a temporary shelter on one night in January 2009, USA Today said Thursday.

About 16 percent of the homeless in shelters that night were veterans, although veterans comprise just 10 percent of the adult population. The study said more than 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a homeless shelter in 2009.

"It's an absolute shame," said Mark Johnston, deputy assistant secretary for special needs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The study said more than 11,000 veterans between 18 and 30 were in homeless shelters at some time during 2009. Nearly all of them had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"This report offers a much clearer picture about what it means to be a veteran living on our streets or in our shelters," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said. "Understanding the nature and scope of veteran homelessness is critical if we hope to meet President Obama's goal of ending this national tragedy within five years."

Among the findings: Nearly half of the homeless were in California, Texas, New York or Florida; minorities are more likely to be homeless; veterans stayed in shelters longer than non-veterans, and most homeless veterans are alone, rather than part of a family.

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