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VA Rocky Mountain Network


Ending Veteran Homelessness in Colorado

veteran homelessness

In 2022, VA housed more than 40,000 homeless veterans. In 2023, the VA is striving towards 38,000 veterans housed. VA wants to ensure at least 95% of veterans housed in 2023 do not return to homelessness this year.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Every other week, providers in Jefferson County gather to identify and serve homeless veterans in their area. During one of their recent meetings a case worker identified someone as a veteran, “Leonard,” (pseudonym use to protect his identity) who was staying at the Church of the Hills shelter in Evergreen. Although Leonard previously participated in a VA transitional housing program out of state and had been screened by VA homeless services twice over the last ten years, he was reluctant to engage with VA based on feedback from other veterans.

Some of his barriers to stable housing – common to many experiencing homelessness – included lack of transportation, unemployment, untreated substance use, undiagnosed mental health, physical ailments, and financial concerns. But through coordination and cooperation among the myriad of agencies trying to combat homelessness in Colorado, Leonard decided to give VA another chance and enrolled in the Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing, or HUD VASH, program to obtain permanent housing and receive supportive services.

Leonard is just one out of hundreds of veterans positively impacted by the efforts to reduce veteran homelessness here in Colorado. However, hundreds of homeless veterans remain along the Front Range – hundreds too many!

This past year, VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System completed 689 permanent housing placements to homeless veterans. These efforts were part of a national goal to house at least 38,000 veterans during 2022. Not only that, but in 2021, Fremont County reached “functional zero” for veteran homelessness, meaning there are fewer veterans experiencing homelessness than the county can house in a month. Pueblo County is also making incredible strides and could reach “functional zero” in 2023. These are all positive strides, but we are a long way from the finish line.

“As long as one Veteran is without a place to call home in the country they served, there is work to be done,” Monica Diaz, executive director of the VA Homeless Programs Office, recently shared with me. She is leading the national effort to prevent and end veteran homelessness. And she’s been making an impact!

In 2022, VA housed more than 40,000 homeless veterans. In 2023, the Department is striving toward a similar goal: 38,000 veterans housed. Furthermore, VA wants to ensure at least 95% of veterans housed in 2023 do not return to homelessness this year.

To achieve these lofty goals, VA offers a wide array of services to address the entirety of housing instability. Here are a few actions you can take to assist:

  • If you know (or are) a veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET (877-424-3838) for assistance.
  • Work with VA to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans in your community. If you’re a landlord or housing provider, consider housing partnerships to provide veterans exiting homelessness with access to affordable housing options. If you’re a business owner, work with VA to provide veterans exiting homelessness with opportunities to obtain a stable job and steady income. Become a donation or outreach partner to mitigate the problem.
Melody Boyet is the local VA Section Chief of Homeless Programs. She and her staff of social workers are working tirelessly with community partners along the Front Range to end – not just reduce – homelessness among our veteran community. “There is no ‘wrong door’ to get into care,” she shared with me earlier this week. Any and every way possible her staff, which maintains a by-name list of homeless veterans in the area, are constantly assisting this vulnerable population that live among us.

Boyet’s office manages an array of programs to combat this problem. They have more than 1,800 HUD VASH vouchers earmarked just for veterans who don’t have housing from Pueblo to Denver. They try to prevent imminent loss of low-income veterans’ homes through the Supportive Service for Veteran Families program. She has community employment coordinators to boost employment outcomes for homeless (or at risk of becoming homeless) veterans.  

VA has programs that expand the eligibility criteria for veterans to receive care because of the dire importance of the services offered: military sexual trauma, suicide prevention, and homelessness, just to name a few.

The words “homeless” and “veteran” should not exist together. VA is committed to ending homelessness among veterans because it’s our nation’s duty to ensure all veterans have a place to call home.

Thanks for allowing me to walk alongside you behind friendly lines.




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