WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- On any given night in 2009, nearly 76,000 U.S. military veterans were homeless, the Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Affairs agencies said.
Roughly 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during the same assessment period, the Defense Department said in a release.
The assessment is based on an annual report HUD provides to Congress and examines demographics of veterans who are homeless, how veterans compare to others who are homeless, and how veterans access and use the nation's homeless response system, the Pentagon said.
"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 to meeting President Obama's goal of ending veterans' homelessness within five years."
Because federal, state and community officials are working together, more veterans are moving into safer housing, "but we're not done yet," said Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
"Providing assistance in mental health, substance abuse treatment, education and employment goes hand-in-hand with preventive steps and permanent supportive housing," Shinseki said. "We continue to work towards our goal of finding every veteran safe housing and access to needed services."