The fact that homelessness exists for anyone is a stain on the country. But that homelessness exists for veterans, in a country that claims to love our military people, is a black mark and an acute demonstration of how capitalism knows no loyalty, no nationality, and no ideal except for the bottom line.
Thankfully, some cities have stepped in to fill the void.
The Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, gave a statement on Wednesday announcing that the city has “ended veteran homelessness,” and did so a year earlier than the federal goal.
Last year, there were about 193 veterans who lived on the streets without a home to call their own. On July 4, the Mayor committed to getting each one a place to live. Together with organizations that hadn’t worked together in the past, the city managed to jump the White Houses’ deadline by almost a year.
While speaking to the associated press last year, Michelle Obama called the homelessness of veterans a “stain on the soul of the nation” and added that “[The] idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform spends their nights sleeping on the ground should horrify us.”
A total of 312 mayors have already joined the effort, instituting procedures similar to the one in New Orleans in their city.
In all of six months, New Orleans had housed 227 veterans, and with their new system in place, will be able to house a veteran with an average of 30 days.
When a homeless veteran is first identified, the Unity of Greater New Orleans or one of the other agencies it works with contacts the VA’s Supporter Services for Veterans Families Program; the VA Support Services confirms if the individual is a veteran, and assesses their health. It also provides them with up to five months of rental assistance, during which time the city and it’s coalition of homeless advocacy groups works seek out more permanent housing measures, using the VA’s voucher program or the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
The program is clearly working in New Orleans, and has worked in other places like Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
This works. Giving homeless people homes, surprisingly enough, makes them stop being homeless. It’s like its rocket science or something. These projects, when employed for everyone, not just veterans, wind up saving the city and the county a huge amount of money, too. The next step is just to provide housing for everyone at no cost, paid for by the federal government.
And that would be a good thing, just like the anti-homeless projects are a good thing.