Flags are hoisted at the street corner encampment of homeless veteran Kendrick Bailey on November 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California, one of the nation's largest homeless populations which saw a 57 percent increase in the number of homeless vets living on Los Angeles streets from last year. Bailey, who says he served in Vietnam, said he has been living on the streets since at least as long as Obama became president. Veterans Day, an official United States public holiday, is observed annually on November 11th. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN—AFP/Getty Images
By Pratheek Rebala
November 11, 2017

Efforts to fight homelessness among the veteran community appear to be paying off: The number of homeless veterans was down 40% in 2016 from five years ago, according to the most recent data from Housing and Urban Development.

As of January 2016, 39,471 veterans are still homeless. Of these, 13,067 homeless veterans are also unsheltered – living on the streets, in abandoned buildings and cars.

While the latest data from HUD won’t be available until the end of the year, preliminary analysis from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicates that 53 communities, including three states — Virginia, Connecticut and Delaware — have “effectively ended” homelessness among the veteran population.

According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, a community is said to have “effectively ended” homelessness if they have been able to provide permanent housing to all veterans within 90 days after they have been identified as homeless and have housed all veterans except for those who have refused assistance.

However, the national trend isn’t the norm in some communities, where there has been an increase in the number of homeless veterans. In Pittsfield, Mass., the number of homeless vets has grown from 70 in 2011 to 266 in 2016; Similarly, Myrtle Beach, S.C. has also seen a 180% increase in veteran homelessness.

The HUD data also provides a snapshot of overall homelessness in the United States: In January 2016, there are more than half a million homeless persons in the U.S.

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