It’s Independence Day. People across the state are celebrating and many are enjoying a day off from work, often basking in patriotism.
It’s a good time to remember all the veterans who have served our country. Too many of them have ended up homeless due a variety of problems, many of them service-related.
Although homelessness continues to increase in Hawaii and on Oahu, there has been some progress in getting homeless veterans into housing, especially on this island. That’s mostly because more veterans are concentrated here than on the neighbor islands, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies have provided rent vouchers for them, and nonprofit groups have helped find them suitable housing, according to the latest “Point in Time” count of homeless people.
Overall veteran homelessness declined 12 percent this year from last year, according to page 29 of that report. The number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless veterans both decreased, the report says.
The decreases are “reflective of the synergy between veteran service providers, the VA and overall veteran prioritization by the Continuum and national funding initiatives,” according to the report.
The trend is encouraging, but the report also shows that the number of homeless veterans increased from 367 in 2012 to 413 this year, down from a high of 467 last year.
If only they had made those rent vouchers available earlier.