27 veterans graduate from HVAF’s VetWorks programJanuary 10, 2024
HVAF celebrates Black History MonthFebruary 7, 2024
Happy New Year! Beginning a new year is an opportunity to reset and refocus on key priorities for the next 12 months. Along with all the weight loss resolutions, promises to reduce screentime, and be more present, at HVAF we are focused on ending veteran homelessness, offering hope, housing and self-sufficiency to Hoosier veterans and families.
If you’ll allow it, I’d like to spend just a moment looking in the rear-view mirror at 2023. We’ve compiled our preliminary outcomes, and I can report that we served 84 more veterans last year than in 2022 for a total of 1,349 veterans served. And we provided over 37,000 services to veterans in need—which is a record, eclipsing even the height of the pandemic in 2020-2021.
The need is increasing not just in Central Indiana but throughout the country. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just released the 2023 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, which reflected the same increased need we’ve seen at HVAF. Nationally, veteran homelessness increased by 7.5% and homelessness for non-veterans increased by 12%. On any given night, over 35,000 veterans experience homelessness in the United States.
When sharing these findings, The National Alliance to End Homelessness explained that, “Vital pandemic safety net programs have or will soon be expired, threatening people’s ability to secure and maintain permanent housing. And while the homeless services workforce is working as hard as possible to provide aid and expand the resources available to vulnerable people, these efforts are unable to keep up with the 30 percent growth in new people entering homelessness between 2020 and 2022. On average, 17,000 new people entered homelessness per week in 2022.”
Later this month, the Indianapolis community will join together complete the 2024 Point In Time Count to determine the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the city. Last year, the Point In Time Count results showed an increase in veteran homelessness. With even more funding reductions in important homeless service programs due to the end of the public health emergency last May, I am concerned we will again see increases in the number of individuals, families, and veterans experiencing homelessness in our community.
We know that the solution is housing, and it will take all of us working together to end veteran homelessness. Right now, there is an opportunity for the federal government to act by fully funding and expanding lifesaving homeless programs. On the state level, we are excited to be working with the Indiana General Assembly in the upcoming session, in particular with Representative Renee Pack to add housing protections for Hoosier veterans utilizing vouchers to end their homelessness. And locally, we are grateful for the City of Indianapolis’ efforts to expand affordable housing for all in our community, including Richardson Townhomes, which will provide more permanent supportive housing for veterans.
There’s an opportunity for you, as an individual, to get involved, too. You can volunteer your time at HVAF to serve the most vulnerable in our community, donate much needed food and clothing to support our pantries, and donate financially to help ensure our housing programs and services are fully funded. Consider joining our Colonel’s Club by becoming a sustaining monthly donor with a gift in any amount that your comfortable giving. Thank you for reading and for your continued partnership in this important work to end veteran homelessness in our community.