On August 2, HVAF was pleased to announce the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in our community declined by 35% according to the 2022 Point In Time count. You can catch up here if you missed that announcement. I wanted to take a moment to share more information behind this incredible decrease and the work that lies ahead to sustain this reduction.
First, I would like to celebrate the fact that this decrease most importantly means that fewer veterans—men and women who served our country–are experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. Fewer veterans and their families are forced to live on our city’s streets. Fewer veterans and their families are experiencing the trauma and heartache that comes with homelessness. This is worth celebrating!
I am deeply grateful to HVAF’s staff of passionate and dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to meet the needs of our community’s most vulnerable veterans. Our staff have confronted higher caseloads, higher unemployment rates, difficult housing and labor markets, and more complex needs in addition to the challenges COVID-19 added to the situation. And they’ve done a remarkable job! To announce a decrease in veteran homelessness in challenging times is a testament to the devotion of Team HVAF and providers in our community who continue to show up every day to do this important work.
We are also grateful for the crisis funding available first through the CARES Act and subsequently through the American Rescue Plan Act that provided critical resources to rapidly and permanently house veterans and their families. In 2021, HVAF received $3.4M in Supportive Services for Veteran Families and Emergency Solutions Grant funds from the VA and HUD that allowed for rapid expansion of our rapid rehousing program and quickly moved veterans from homelessness into stable, secure housing.
As we near the end of the declared national disaster for COVID, we are anticipating funding reductions in both programs mentioned above as well as the VA’s transitional housing program. We must act now to ensure that the progress made over the last year is not lost due to funding changes. I urge Congress to pass S. 2172, the Building Solutions for Veterans Experiencing Homelessness Act of 2021, to lay the groundwork for sustained progress on ending veteran homelessness throughout our country. This bill preserves the gains made over the last two years by maintaining funding for transitional housing programs, expands public transportation for veterans to access care, provides stable housing and medical care for aging veterans and includes an assessment of barriers to securing permanent housing that will continue to improve programs offered to veterans. We join our partners at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to respectfully request Congress act on this critical legislation.
While we have a lot to celebrate today, it is clear much work remains to be done to ensure that no Hoosier Hero faces homelessness. Our veterans deserve better than that.