138. Who’s Counting? Part II

Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

As I stated in Part I, there are problems with a lot of the survey data regarding homelessness in America and the fact that too many are too willing to reproduce this information to the masses. I summed up in the previous article how those that advocate for the homeless as well as the media have not researched but blindly parrot what is told to them brings harm to Homeless Veterans as well as the Homeless population as a whole.

The VA, in trying to say that it is reducing homelessness in America due to the fact that a lot of World War II and Korean War Veterans have passed on, is purely a load of crap. I have received a few emails saying that I am tough on the VA here, but I have a few simple ways to prove what they have stated is incorrect and just something they said to cover that they actually have done nothing new to ease Veteran Homelessness.

Actually the VA considers those that read their memos and reports to be thoroughly pliant to their statements, completely stupid or a combination of all of the previous. In having Senator Daniel Akaka squawking what a great job they have done in reducing homelessness, I am beginning to believe that we need to do a better job in selecting people who we elect to represent us in government.

OK here are some points to consider:

In the Annual Homeless Assessment Report, HUD and the departed Alphonso Jackson stated:

“In comparing these results with those of previous studies, there is no evidence that the size of the homeless population has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Given that the total U.S. population grew by 31 million people since 1996, no increase in the homeless population could be deemed an accomplishment.”

2007 AHAR, Executive Summary, pg. iii

In his resignation speech former Secretary Jackson stated he reduced Chronic Homelessness…

VA Secretary James Peake said Veteran Homelessness declined because:

VA and community programs targeting homelessness, a decline in the number of living World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans, and an improvement in the way the annual estimate was taken so fewer people were counted more than once were all credited as reasons behind the overall decline


The decline in veterans’ homelessness was attributed, in part, to VA’s success in providing more services for homeless veterans and improved coordination of federal, state and local efforts

VA Memo March 6th, 2008

Gee that is a sad thought that the VA attributes a large portion of homelessness to 60, 70 and 80 year old veterans! Also strange here is that for years Veteran Homelessness was most entirely blamed on Vietnam Veterans…Now the VA blames those pesky World War II and Korean War Vets!

Now here is where Secretary Peake’s theory or the VA’s reasoning breaks down.

If as the VA states now, that one in five( 1:5 )homeless are veterans.

In doing simple math then the reduction of 40,000 homeless veterans should have been reflected nationally… If not this is to be considered an Anomaly in the report? Why would not HUD describe a significant drop in Homeless Veterans?

That means then in this nation that TOTAL HOMELESSNESS IN THE ANNUAL HOMELESS ASSESSMENT REPORT (AHAR) national homelessness should have dropped by over 200,000 people! The statistics could not have just fallen in one category… VETERANS. There is a problem somewhere at the VA in accordance with undercounting and overstating successes.

Since all of the above COORDINATION should have been across the board as it says through every agency down to the local government level. Other than cattle driving the homeless out of their cities and imposing ordinances against sleeping on benches, there is little done at the local level.

As the National League of Cities reported in their Insta Survey on their website:

How have the following conditions changed in your community in the past year?

  • Increase in foreclosures 62%
  • Increase in need for temporary assistance, other than housing 53%
  • Decrease in funding for other programs and projects 35%
  • Decrease in city revenues and/or revenue estimates 33%
  • Increase in abandoned/vacant properties/other forms of blight 33%
  • Increase in cost/risk of bond and capital financing 26%
  • Increase in predatory lending practices 23%
  • Increase in homelessness/need for temporary/emergency housing 22%
  • Increase in out-migration of residents 17%

What groups/organizations has your city been working with most closely in responding to this crisis?

  • 59% Non-profit/civic organizations
  • 35% State government
  • 34% Other local governments
  • 32% Banks/mortgage lenders
  • 29% Churches
  • 26% Neighborhood associations/groups
  • 26% Federal government
  • 18% Other private sector/business
  • 7% Other
  • 15% None

Responses were from 211 cities nationally

Other than begging for help and waiting for the sky to fall, it seems cities are not doing anything to alleviate the issues in their own towns.

Amazingly 15% of cities and many of these are inside HUD’s Continuum of Care are waiting for the sky to fall! Amazingly enough Nonprofits and Churches are the lead the cities are running to. Funny thing in this report is that the cities themselves never mention that they are being proactive in dealing with this crisis. I do not see how the VA is coordinating with all of these LOCAL governments if the cities are waiting on help from above!

That is using the VA reduction factor. It is impossible to state what the VA is saying since as I have shown the VA and Government Accounting Office (GAO) have testified to Congress regarding the VA’s method of NEW ACCOUNTING in 2006!

VA estimates that on a given night in fiscal year 2005 about 194,000 veterans were homeless.12 The estimate, generally lower than the numbers reported prior to 2004, is considered by VA officials to be the best estimate available. VA officials believe that a new methodology and use of local HUD data has improved the estimate, although some homeless veterans may not have been included because they could not be found when the estimate was developed. While VA has increased its capacity to provide transitional housing for homeless veterans in recent years, its program planning efforts indicate that an additional 9,600 transitional housing beds from various sources are needed to meet current demand. VA officials report that they are working to operationalize an additional 2,200 beds for the GPD program.

Homeless Veteran Statistics by year

Gee in 2006 the VA said 194,000 Homeless Veterans for 2005. Their 2007 report is stating 40,000 less now for 2005. In 2004 the VA cut their numbers of Homeless Veterans by 121,000 from 313,000 to 194,000. So in accordance with all the reductions from 2004 to 2005 (imagine that?) they reduced Veteran Homelessness by 161,000 in two years!

Now yes these reports from HUD are from the counts in 2005. Nothing like timeliness in delivery I imagine. What is timely in 2005 is certainly untimely when compared to Foreclosures being the lead story in a lot of the evening news and newspapers of the world for our nation.

In a letter of reply from a VA Official to Wanderingvets about how the HUD / VA Counts work, I received this reply…

“The 2007 CHALENG report does use the AHAR as an important reference. Neither the VA, nor HUD collect social security information to make these homeless counts.”

– VA Official

Do you think he or she missed a memo or Congressional Testimony as stated above?

And here below HUD talks about Social Security data being used in the AHAR.

The analysis provides estimates of the number and characteristics of sheltered homeless people based on de-duplicated records of more than 100,000 people who used emergency shelters or transitional housing at any time during the three-month period from February 1 through April 30, 2005. Before obtaining a count of homeless persons in a community, it is necessary to review HMIS records to ensure that people who received services from more than one provider or who accessed services multiple times are counted only once. De-duplication is the process by which information on homeless clients within a program or across several programs is consolidated into individual, unique client records. 2 National estimates of the number of sheltered homeless people and descriptions of their characteristics are derived from this de-duplicated sample.

2007 Annual Homeless Assessment Report: 12 Chapter 2: Sources of Data on Homeless Persons

2 De-duplication involves comparing personal identifiers (such as Social Security Number and date of birth) in order to check that multiple records for the same person are counted only once.

So what is the VA using to count Homeless Veterans? See Part III of Who’s Counting?, coming soon.



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