Veteran homelessness falling; Lincoln shelter says decline here is especially dramatic

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The latest data shows an 11% decrease in veteran homelessness between 2020 and 2022, the largest drop in more than five years.

Joe Brownell, a veteran and the director of UNL’s Military and Veteran Success Center, said tackling the issue is a community effort.

“A lot of times, some of the veterans want to do things themselves, and you need to be able to ask for some help,” Brownell said. “There’s some great resources here in the state of Nebraska for that help.”

The number of homeless veterans in the U.S. is high.

A count by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that over 33,000 former military members are living without permanent housing.

The good news is that those numbers are down from previous years.

The department’s data shows a 55% decline since 2010.

Brownell said that in Nebraska, veterans’ resources have stepped up over the last few years.

“It’s really been a collaborative effort here by multiple groups throughout the state of Nebraska that’s made it so successful,” he said.

Tom Barber, CEO of People’s City Mission in Lincoln, said he’s seen homeless rates among veterans drop dramatically in the last few years.

He estimated the decrease at 80% to 90%.

Barber credited the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which offers various benefits, like tax relief, home loans and emergency funds to veterans.

Brownell said many veterans struggle after returning from service because it’s a huge lifestyle change.

“You come out of that military environment, and there’s that closeness, and there’s just some challenges with dealing with that transition,” Brownell said.

He pointed to two reasons why it’s important to prioritize this issue: It shows gratitude for veterans, and it encourages more people to join the military when they see that veterans are respected and supported.

Brownell said family and friends are often the most critical people in the process.

“Family members and other friends can help connect those individuals with resources and make sure that while they’re transitioning, they get the help they need right away,” Brownell said.

If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with housing, visit this link for resources.

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