7.4% increase in the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness

Monica Diaz

By Monica Diaz

Executive Director, VA Homeless Programs Office


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the results of the 2023 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count, the annual effort to estimate the number of Americans, including Veterans, without permanent housing.

The data showed that on a single night in January 2023, there were 35,574 Veterans who experienced homelessness in the U.S. This reflects a 7.4% increase in the number of Veterans experiencing homelessness from 2022.

Despite these increases, there is still an overall downward trend in Veteran homelessness. The estimated number of Veterans experiencing homelessness in the U.S. has declined by 52.0% since 2010. Within the last three years alone, there has been approximately a 4% overall reduction in Veteran homelessness.

As with prior years, advocates for ending homelessness among Veterans have eagerly awaited these results, anticipating it would show the late-stage effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the gradual end of pandemic-era protections.

A deeper look

Looking deeper at the data, we see that of the Veterans counted:

  • 20,067 experienced sheltered homelessness—an increase of 502 Veterans, or 2.6% from 2022.
  • 15,507 experienced unsheltered homelessness—an increase of 1,943 Veterans, or 14.3% from 2022.

Unsheltered Veterans represented nearly 80% of the overall increase.

Veterans who experience sheltered homelessness often live in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or other supportive settings. In contrast, Veterans who experience unsheltered homelessness live in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings and literally on the street.

The experience of homelessness alone is already harmful to Veterans’ whole health—mind, body and soul. However, unsheltered homelessness among Veterans is even worse, with research demonstrating that unsheltered individuals often report more significant negative health conditions than those who are sheltered.

VA and our federal partners have made supporting unsheltered Veterans a top priority, both as part of our 2023 Homelessness Goals and the All Inside initiative. As of October 2023, VA has already engaged with 34,498 unsheltered Veterans to ensure they access to the shelter and housing resources they need. This has exceeded VA’s goal to engage with 28,000 unsheltered Veterans by 123.2%

Behind the numbers

We are currently analyzing the PIT Count data to identify reasons for the increase in Veteran homelessness. In the meantime, we know that different factors likely contributed.

When the need outpaces the resources

Bottom line: More Veterans needed homeless assistance resources than the existing capacity could help.

The downstream impact can be seen in VA’s goal to house 38,000 Veterans in 2022, which VA actually exceeded by housing over 40,000 Veterans. Despite these efforts, Veteran homelessness still increased by 7.4%.

Furthermore, overall homelessness increased by 12%, a larger increase than among Veterans. We’re confident that the rise in Veteran homelessness would have been worse if not for the significant actions taken to house more Veterans in 2022.

What the numbers don’t show

Notably, the 2023 PIT Count results do not reflect the significant actions we’ve taken this year to support homeless and at-risk Veterans. This past March, VA announced its 2023 goals for preventing and ending Veteran homelessness. And we’re making great progress. Over 38,847 more Veterans have been housed as of October 31, 2023, surpassing our goal two months earlier than projected.

This year, VA has also expanded access to health care for homeless Veterans, expanded access to legal assistance for homeless Veterans, helped more than 145,000 Veterans and their families retain their homes and avoid foreclosure, and awarded more than $1 billion in grant funding to help homeless Veterans.

The work ahead

One Veteran experiencing homelessness is one too many, let alone 35,574.

We are at a pivotal moment in the national housing and homelessness crises. And the solutions are clear:

  • Double down on our work to prevent Veterans from becoming homeless in the first place.
  • Connect homeless Veterans to permanent housing with supportive services.
  • Establish an effective shelter system to support Veterans and their families.
  • Increase the supply of affordable housing.
  • Strengthen tenant protections and reduce evictions.

In collaboration with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, HUD, the Department of Labor, and other federal and local partners, VA will continue to execute evidence-based approaches, such as Housing First, to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans.

We won’t rest until every Veteran has a safe, stable, accessible and affordable home—and no Veteran experiences the tragedy and indignity of homelessness ever again.

Learn about VA Programs

If you are a Veteran who is homeless or at risk for homelessness, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).

Visit the VA Homeless Programs website to learn about housing initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.

Check out the Ending Veteran Homelessness podcast to learn more about what VA is doing about Veteran homelessness.

Learn how to get involved with housing homeless Veterans.

For more stories like these, subscribe to the Homeless Programs Office newsletter to receive monthly updates about programs and supportive services for Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness.


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