Last week, Phoenix, Arizona became the first city to reduce the number of chronically homeless veterans living in the city to zero. There is more work to be done to eliminate overall veteran homelessness, but this achievement is a significant milestone for the nationwide push to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015.
Three years ago, a state coalition aimed at ending chronic homelessness among veterans identified 222 living in Phoenix. As of early November, 56 remained, but a $100,000 allocation of funds enabled the city to house them all as of midweek, winning what the mayor’s office described Wednesday as a friendly competition with Utah’s Salt Lake City to become the first U.S. city to do so.
“Phoenix can take its place as role model city for gratitude and care towards veterans,” Mayor Greg Stanton said in a release.
In 2009, President Barack Obama, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, made it a top priority to support veterans who lack safe, secure housing. With the help of supporters and cities across the country, they have reduced veteran homelessness by 24 percent since 2010.
"We congratulate the City of Phoenix on the milestone accomplishment of being the first city in American history to end chronic homelessness for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces," said Clarence Anthony, executive director, National League of Cities (NLC) in a statement. "For those who have served and sacrificed for the safety and security of our nation, even a single homeless veteran is one too many. We call on all cities across America to follow Phoenix's example and work to ensure all veterans have access to safe, stable and affordable housing."
"Chronic veteran homelessness remains a serious problem across the U.S. While the federal government has set the goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015, nearly 60,000 veterans still lack safe and stable housing. To accomplish this goal, we urge Congress to continue providing the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development with the necessary resources to allow city leaders to continue collaborative efforts with local stakeholders and national organizations such as NLC and the 100,000 Homes Campaign."
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans hotline to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at-risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. If you, or someone you know is a homeless veteran, call 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838) to be connected with trained VA staff member.