George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Housing Our Homeless Veterans: The Conversation Surrounding America’s Heroes

Written By Spring 2024 Student Advisor Mark Rasmussen.

Americans are feeling their belts tighten as their wallets get emptier due to rising inflation and cost of living. This has turned homelessness in America into a hot topic of conversation. As we see the surge of undocumented migrants coming over the southern border, it has started to create an amplified call to address the homelessness issue with many states wondering how they are going to house those migrants that are coming in.[1]

This focus on undocumented migrants coming through the southern border has led to a comparison on treatment for our Veterans. This comparison is ongoing, even as recently as May 02, 2024, when Senator John Kennedy introduced a bill that would block federal funding for undocumented migrants. The “Heros Over Aliens Act” or HOA, would prevent the current administration “from prioritizing illegal aliens over homeless heroes.”[2] The bill seeks to accomplish this goal by “prohibiting the use of Federal funds to provide or subsidize housing for aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States until the Secretary of Veterans determines that sufficient Federal resources exist to provide housing assistance to all homeless Veterans.”[3]

But how bad is the state of homelessness in America? How bad is it for Veterans?

The State of Homelessness in America

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) provided its Annual Homeless Assessment Report (“AHAR”) in December of 2023. This report provides estimates of homelessness in the U.S., on a single night. The 2023 report estimates that approximately 653,100 people who were experiencing homeless on a single night in 2023. This was a 12% increase from 2022. The number of homeless people is broken into two groups; those experiencing homelessness in sheltered locations and those experiencing homelessness in unsheltered locations. Those experiencing homelessness in sheltered locations were around 60% of the total number with the remaining 40% being unsheltered.

In previous years, AHAR saw single populations (such as minorities) that drove changes in the homelessness rates. However, this year, AHAR saw increases across all populations. This includes Veterans. HUD reported that on a single night in January 2023, over 35,574 Veterans were experiencing homelessness in the U.S., approximately a seven percent of all adults experiencing homelessness. Of these, 20,067 were sheltered while 15,507 were unsheltered.[4] These numbers represent a 7.4% increase over the previous year; of which unsheltered Veterans represent nearly 80% of the overall increase.[5] While this may not seem like a shocking amount in the face of a 653,100 total number, it is important to note that it is “more common for Veterans to experience homelessness than for all [other] people in the United States (20 people out of every 10,000).”[6]

How are we helping the problem?

Several bills have been drafted to help with the Veteran homelessness problem. One of the most significant bills has been Housing Our Military Veterans Effectively (“HOME”). This bill authorized the VA to collaborate with organizations to manage the use of VA land for homeless Veterans to live and sleep. The bill also extends certain loan fee rates through May 18, 2032, under the VA’s home loan program.[7] This means that millions of America’s heroes would be able to gain access to housing or find a loan and rates separate from the regular market.[8]

At the beginning of this month, the Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act was agreed on by both the house and the senate.[9] This bill was stalled by negotiations but now the portions of the bill that caused the stall have been ironed out. This bill would increase the per diem rate the VA can pay to organizations providing short-term transitional housing from 115% of costs to 133%.[10] It would also allow the VA to go as high as 200% if the area is considered high-cost.[11] This will also allow the VA to provide homeless Veterans with free transportation to medical appointments, jobs, or support programs. This specific benefit is an extension of the benefits granted to the VA during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The VA has also expanded its efforts to house Veterans that are experiencing homelessness. Last year, the VA announced that it had permanently housed 46,552 homeless Veterans.[12] Additionally, the VA helped more than 145,000 Veterans and their families retain their homes and avoid foreclosure.[13]

If you are a homeless Veteran or a Veteran at risk of homelessness

While the bills introduced will bring changes and added funds to the homeless Veterans issue, the changes won’t be immediate. Luckily, Veterans that are homeless or at risk of homelessness can find faster relief through programs provided by the VA and other government agencies. For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing is a collaborative program between HUD and the VA which combines housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help Veterans who are homeless, and their families, find and sustain permanent housing.[14] Other programs for housing include: Supportive Services for Veteran Families (“SSVF”), Homeless Providers Grand and Per Diem Program (“GPD”), and Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (“DCHV”).[15]

The SSVF provides case management and supportive services to prevent imminent loss of a Veteran’s home or help to identify new individual or family housing. The GPD awards capital grants and per diem payments for transitional housing where an afflicted Veteran can stay for up to 24 months. The DCHV provides residential care for sheltered and unsheltered Veterans with challenges such as illnesses or rehabilitative care needs. It focuses on getting Veterans the care they need at over 43 sites throughout the U.S.

Homeless Veterans deserve our help and our priority. Although there is improvement, Veteran homelessness remains a worrying issue. No one should be sleeping on the streets, citizen or undocumented migrant, but especially not our Veteran Heroes. If you or someone you know is a Veteran that is homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness, please seek help from the many resources that are available to you. You are strongly encouraged to contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for assistance.

[1] See Governor of New York, Immigration Reform (2024), (last visited May 12, 2024).

[2] See Senator Kennedy, Kennedy Introduces Bill to Stop Biden Admin from Funding Housing for Illegal Aliens Over Veterans, (last visited May 13, 2024).

[3] Heroes Over Aliens Act, S., 118th Cong. (2024).

[4] See U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (2023), (last visited May 13, 2024).

[5] See Veterans Affairs, Veteran Homelessness Increased by 7.4% in 2023, (Last visited May 14, 2024).

[6] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress 66 (2023), (last visited May 14, 2024).

[7] See H.R. 3848, 118th Cong. (2024).

[8] See House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – Press Release (last visited May 14, 2024),

[9] See House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – Press Release (last visited May 14, 2024),,addiction%20to%20get%20needed%20treatment.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] See Veterans Affairs, VA Housed More Than 46,000 Homeless Veterans in 2023 (last visited May 14, 2024),

[13] Id.

[14] See Veterans Affairs, For Homeless Veterans (last visited May 14, 2024),

[15] See Veterans Affairs, VA Homeless Programs (last visited May 14, 2024),