Number of Homeless Vets Down Sharply

But can administration make it zero by 2015?

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 12, 2012 12:03 AM CST

(Newser) – The Obama administration has vowed to end homelessness among military veterans by 2015 and while some advocates call that pledge unrealistic, there has been undeniable progress made over the last few years, the AP finds. Veterans Affairs officials estimate the number of homeless vets has dropped by 15,000 since 2009 to roughly 60,000. They credit the fall to an aggressive strategy to both get vets off the streets and prevent new ones from ending up homeless. The president reiterated his commitment to vets at Veterans Day events yesterday.

The effort has also been helped by some rare bipartisan cooperation, which made it possible to raise the VA budget for health care and other services to the homeless by more than $2 billion. "We can all agree that money spent in that effort has been money well spent," says GOP Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. But for the White House to get close to its 2015 goal, officials say it will cost billions more and require improvement to programs dealing with issues that lead to homelessness, including mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and poverty.

Don Matyja, a homeless Army veteran, poses for a picture with his dog Tyson at Lions park in Costa Mesa, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Homeless veteran George Krider poses for a portrait at a homeless shelter in San Diego. Krider has lived on and off the streets since leaving the navy with the rank of Petty Officer Second Class.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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