Number of Homeless Veterans Increased in San Diego
According to a report released in May, the number of homeless veterans has increased by 24 percent (1,312 homeless veterans) this past year. This comes despite San Diego’s effort to house and shelter veterans. Last year, the number of homeless veterans nationwide increased for the first time in seven years, and there was a dramatic increase in San Diego County. The 2017 homeless count found around 40,000 homeless veterans nationwide, up by nearly 600 people and a 1.5 percent increase from the previous year. Homeless Veterans of San Diego founder Kelly Luisi stated,
I definitely think that the number has gone up. I see a steady flow of new veterans. I’m never without a new case.
About half of San Diego’s homeless veterans are living in shelters and the rest are living outdoors or in vehicles. According to this year’s report, 659 homeless veterans are unsheltered, a 45 percent from last year. Some people in the field believe this year’s increase could be linked to housing costs or people transitioning out of the military that haven’t saved money and prepared for civilian life. Others believe that the actual number of homeless veterans didn’t increase as much as it seems, but rather more homeless people were being accurately identified as veterans because of improved methods of counting and serving them.
The Housing Commission in San Diego launched the Housing our Heroes initiative in March 2016 and reached its goal of finding rental units for at least 1,000 vets last October. The city also opened a large tented shelter run by Veterans Village of San Diego that can hold up to 200 people and is one of three bridge housing shelters that together can hold almost 700 people. In August, Veterans Village plans to open Veterans Villas in Escondido that will be a 54-unit, 104-bed complex that will be used as permanent housing. Hopefully San Diego is able to increase its efforts to help homeless veterans.
For more information about programs to help homeless veterans visit https://va.gov/homeless