In the final weeks of 2015, National Public Radio (NPR) reviewed the nation’s progress toward President Obama’s goal of ending homelessness among U.S. veterans by the end of 2015. As reported in that series and aired on KUOW, King County is one of many regions that have fallen short of the goal.
According to a report that aired on December 28th, King County’s “booming economy” poses a major barrier to housing veterans: even with government assistance, many veterans can’t afford local rents. In addition, veterans with rental vouchers can’t always find landlords willing to accept them. As reported in a Q13FOX News broadcast, 310 King County veterans were in this position shortly before Thanksgiving – with rental voucher in hand but no place to use it.
While not 100% successful at ending homelessness among veterans, King County housed more than 800 homeless veterans in 2015, according to NPR. This success is in part due to adoption of the “housing first” strategy, a proven “no-strings-attached” approach that gets people into stable housing as soon as possible without insisting that they first solve the problems that may have contributed to their becoming homeless. Addressing the other problems – which can be linked to trauma, chronic pain, substance abuse, and mental illness – is challenging under any circumstances. But it has to be easier when you have a place to call home.