Between 1,700 and 2,000 veterans are either living on the streets or in temporary shelters in San Diego County on any given night, according to a study released Wednesday.
The finding is consistent with past studies on the subject, according to the San Diego-based National University System Institute for Policy Research, which conducted the new study.
“San Diego is home to one of the largest veterans populations in the country,” said Institute President Erik Bruvold in a statement. “Our report will hopefully increase awareness that we need to do more to find housing for these heroes and that too many are falling through the cracks.”
The study also found that by 2020, there will be 16,000 post-Sept. 11 veterans being discharged from the military and making their homes in San Diego County.
Many veterans are finding work for the federal government or manufacturing, but neither sector has a strong presence in San Diego except for the military.
About 3,700 veterans find themselves without a home at least one night in any 12-month period, according to the report.
The study found that $54 million was spent by all levels of government to help local homeless veterans between October 2009 and the same month in 2010; $13 million of that total went to programs to prevent former military members from ending up on the streets.
The rest of the spending went to health care, incarceration, mental health services, and detoxification.
The authors concluded that:
- the public and private sectors need to do more to help younger veterans make the transition to the civilian workforce;
- policy makers should spend more of their dollars on programs that keep at-risk veterans from becoming homeless;
- organizations that help veterans need to proactively deal with post- traumatic stress disorder.
A big part of the problem faced by people leaving the military is the condition of the economy, which is adding jobs slowly, the report stated. Prior generations of veterans generally had better employment rates and higher wages than those of a similar age who did not serve.
– City News Service