Reports about struggling veterans are usually grim, so it’s always nice to trumpet good news: the number of homeless veterans in this country has been cut nearly in half between 2004 and 2009, according to a new Congressional Research Service report just released by Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists (such reports can’t be released to the public — go figure — but Aftergood gets many of them and posts them for his Project on Government Secrecy).
As you can see from the chart, there was a big drop in homeless vets between 2003 and 2004, when their total fell from 313,087 to 192,368. Prior to 2004, the VA estimated the homeless population by figuring out how many had been homeless at any time during the year. From 2004 on, it changed its calculations to reflect the number of vets it estimated to be homeless on any given day. “The VA considers the recent estimates to be more reliable,” the CRS report says. The VA says the steady decline is due to “VA program interventions, changes in methodology, and the declining numbers of both poor veterans and veterans generally.” Congrats to all involved.