Below are thoughts from HVAF’s VP for Strategy, Emmy Hildebrand, regarding the annual Point In Time (PIT) Count results:
Many effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were immediately known in March of 2020… Lockdown. Lost jobs. Schools closed. Many more are only now coming into focus—including the disproportionate impact of the pandemic among those experiencing and at risk of homelessness. A new report released by the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) reported that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis increased 16% in one year. This report validates what we have been seeing all year at HVAF – an increased need for housing and supportive services for veterans in our community.
Each January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities around the nation to conduct the annual Point In Time Count to quantify the number of individuals experiencing homelessness on a single night. To be counted as homeless, an individual must meet HUD’s definition as a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (i.e., staying in emergency shelters or places not meant for human habitation) or individuals and families fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence.
The 2021 Marion County Point In Time Count reported that 1,928 individuals were counted as homeless in our community on January 18, representing the most counted in 10 years. Of those counted as homeless, 257 were identified as veterans of the United States Armed Forces, including 13 living unsheltered on the streets of our city. The report also indicated the number of homeless veterans was likely undercounted due to the challenges of conducting the Point In Time Count during a pandemic.
A wide range of factors can lead to veterans facing the risk of homelessness. As a result of these myriad challenges, veterans who do end up with uncertain and insecure housing options tend to suffer even more deeply than others in similar situations. Veterans are more likely than non-veterans to experience homelessness, and they are also more likely to experience homelessness alone, struggle with substance abuse, and have a physical disability.
In 2019, HVAF served 1,438 unique veterans throughout all of our housing, employment, and basic needs programs. In 2020, that number increased to 1,453. The total number served is only a fraction of the story. The demand for employment services rose dramatically, especially during the spring and summer of 2020. Additionally, veterans needed, and still need, longer term housing support to find and maintain permanent housing in such a challenging time.
The Delta Variant is an unfortunate reminder that COVID-19 continues to be a threat to our community, especially those at risk of homelessness. The Indianapolis Business Journal reported in July that over 100,000 Hoosier tenants are at risk of eviction, no doubt many of them veterans. All indications are that the impact of the pandemic on our veterans will continue well into 2022, potentially even beyond.
We stand ready at HVAF to serve those who served our nation. We continue to strive for housing, hope, and self-sufficiency for all veterans and their families.
To support the life changing work at HVAF, please click the button below: