Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Federal Study Reveals Disproportionate Numbers of Homeless Are Veterans

Eric Angel, Executive Director

A federal study released yesterday confirmed what many providers who work with homeless populations know:  homelessness is a significant problem for our nation’s veterans.  According to an assessment from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA), released yesterday, nearly 76,000 veterans were homeless on a given night in 2009, while roughly 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during that year.  Veterans are disproportionately represented in the homeless population: approximately 8 per cent of the nation has veterans status, while 12 per cent of individuals experiencing homelessness are veterans.  Moreover, things are worse for veterans living in poverty.  Ten percent of veterans in poverty became homeless at some point during the 2009, compared to five per cent of adults in poverty.  The crisis is even greater here in the District, with more than 10 per cent of our homeless population made up of veterans.  These statistics—and much more—can be found in the new HUD/VA study.  In addition, USA Today has published an article about the study.

Given the extraordinary need among the District’s veteran population, Legal Aid is particularly proud of the veterans project that we have recently launched with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and the law firms of Arent Fox LLP and McDermott Will & Emery LLP.  The project, led at Legal Aid by Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow Jennifer Cheung, is designed to serve the civil legal needs of our veteran population in the District, with a particular emphasis on child support.  For more about the project, click here.

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