Foundation’s research brief cites mental health, social isolation and legal issues as barriers to housing stability
NEW YORK, Nov. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In its goal to reduce the obstacles many veterans still face in achieving long-term housing stability, The Bob Woodruff Foundation has published “Beyond Financial Assistance: Addressing Risk Factors for Homelessness Among Veterans.” The latest BWF research brief calls upon community-based service providers and funders to use a “whole-person” approach—encompassing mental and social well-being as well as financial and housing insecurity—to reduce veterans’ risks and experiences of homelessness. BWF cites ways to tackle the multiple, often intersecting, factors contributing to veteran homelessness. In addition to financial challenges, these factors include mental health and substance abuse disorders, PTSD, social isolation, other-than-honorable discharges, and military sexual trauma.
While great strides have been made in reducing veteran homelessness—we’ve seen an 11% decline from 2020-22—all veterans do not experience the same risk for homelessness. The report noted elevated risks for homelessness among Black, Hispanic, Native American, LGBTQ+ and former junior enlisted personnel. In addition, in 2022, 48 percent of female homeless veterans, including those with children, were unsheltered, compared with 40 percent of male homeless veterans.
The issue of veteran homelessness is further compounded by systems of care that are under strain due to a nationwide shortage of affordable housing and the expiration of pandemic-era increases in federal funding. To complement vital emergency, transitional, and support services funded by the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Labor, and Housing and Urban Development, BWF recommends investing in comprehensive prevention strategies that go beyond addressing veterans’ financial needs to:
- increase veterans’ access to high quality mental healthcare through partnerships among homeless services, community-based behavior healthcare, and local VA medical providers.
- reduce social isolation and help veterans rebuild and maintain support systems that can help them get back on their feet in hard times.
- help veterans with other-than-honorable discharges or criminal justice involvement successfully reintegrate into their communities.
“It’s important to remember that although veterans make up 7% of our total population, they account for 13% of our homeless population. While progress has been made to reduce veteran homelessness, significant hurdles remain,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, CEO of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “As we highlight in our research, homelessness prevention strategies must address the multiple risk factors veterans face, including access to mental healthcare, social isolation, and legal issues.”
The Foundation, which announced its fall 2023 investments this week, has invested in six organizations that work to address veteran homelessness.
About The Bob Woodruff Foundation
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was wounded by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, BWF has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans, including mental health, caregiver support, food insecurity, and service-connected fertility issues. To date, BWF has invested over $157 million to ensure that our nation’s veterans, service members and their families have stable and successful futures. For more information, visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org
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SOURCE Bob Woodruff Foundation