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Homelessness on the decline; biggest drop among veterans

By Marilyn Malara
Homelessness on the decline; biggest drop among veterans
A homeless encampment in Los Angeles. The HUD is reporting a continuing decline in homelessness in the United States, especially that among veterans and families. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Homelessness in the United States is on the decline, data newly released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicate, with the sharpest drop seen among veterans in the past five years.

The report, released Thursday, announced an 11 percent decrease in the overall homeless population and 26 percent decrease in unsheltered population since the launch of President Barack Obama's "Opening Doors" initiative in 2010.

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In the past five years, the population of homeless veterans on a single night has dropped 36 percent. Much of the progress is being attributed to investments made by the U.S. Congress as well as a joint program between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Family homelessness has dropped 19 percent in the same five-year window.

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"The Obama administration has made an historic commitment to effectively end homelessness in this nation," HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a statement. "But our work is far from finished. We have to continue making smart investments in the strategies that work so that everyone has a place to call home."

Numbers of homeless individuals and families are estimated from data collected during a annual "point-in-time" poll taken on a single night. The HUD report also details a 22 percent decline in chronic homelessness as more than 83,000 people fell into the category this year.

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Data from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans indicate 12 percent of homeless adults are veterans, while 20 percent of the male homeless population are veterans. Fifty-one percent of homeless veterans have disabilities, 50 percent have mental illness and 70 percent have substance abuse problems.

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