In 2009, the White House and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) set an ambitious five-year goal to end homelessness among Veterans, who are overrepresented among the homeless population. As former VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki remarked, “Those who have served our nation should never find themselves on the streets living without hope.” Though they make up only 12.7% of the population at large, Veterans comprise 23% of the homeless population. Recent estimates indicate that 57,849 Veterans are homeless on any given night, and 1.4 million are considered at-risk of homelessness. Homelessness among Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is especially prevalent – in 2013, 50,000 of this generation were homeless or in federal homelessness programs.

Veterans are at greater risk for homelessness than the general population. The causes are complicated but poverty, unemployment, and high housing costs are the most common factors. High rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and sexual trauma also contribute to Veteran homelessness, and might also lead to alcohol and/or substance abuse problems and mental health issues. The stress of multiple deployments and the reintegration to civilian life unquestionably adds a layer of complexity to the numerous hurdles homeless Veterans already face.  And without a post-military support system, the challenges of life outside service can preclude some from meeting all housing and employment needs.

Leadership and Experience

Atlas Research has joined the effort to prevent and end Veteran homelessness, helping unite local and national strategies and driving the push to decrease the sobering numbers. Since 2009, Veteran homelessness has declined 24%, a testament to the community-based solutions developed nationwide through increased collaboration among local agencies and federal partners. Atlas has led or is leading three contracts with VA’s National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans (NCHAV), providing consistent quality evaluation, technical assistance, and training to continually inform processes, strategic services, and communications products.

Twenty Five (25) City Coordination to House Homeless Veterans (25 Cities)

To better address risk factors, assess needed information, and monitor effectiveness and progress, the 25 Cities initiative works with programs at local, state, and federal levels to develop comprehensive data strategies for preventing Veteran homelessness. Along with partners Community Solutions and Rapid Results Institute, Atlas channels local progress on housing homeless Veterans to guide communities through a rapid process of developing a coordinated assessment and housing system and build standardized management. Concentrating on the 25 cities with the highest homeless Veteran rates, the initiative combines local successes with data-driven results.

Benefits Assistance Support Services for At-Risk and Homeless Veterans (BASS)

Benefits programs can be complicated to navigate and often have unique eligibility requirements. Atlas and partners Advocates for Human Potential, Binary Group, and Single Stop USA worked directly with community providers and stakeholders to develop a tool to help Veterans understand and apply for non-VA benefits and connect with local, state, and national providers. The solution acts as a screening tool for benefits and services available to Veterans, is a “one-stop” source for current information about non-VA benefits, and includes a variety of resources both local and national. The tool is designed to instantly provide social workers and their Veteran clients with information. Past obstacles are no longer a threat to accessing care for at-risk and homeless Veterans.

Supportive Services for Veterans and Families (SSVF)

SSVF is comprised of more than 300 community groups helping Veterans in or transitioning to permanent homes, providing a range of services to prevent homelessness. Atlas and partners Abt Associates, Advocates for Human Potential, and Technical Assistance Corporation perform comprehensive assessments of each grantee site to ensure compliance with program requirements and alignment with VA goals and objectives. The Atlas Team’s monitoring work continues to build on innovative community-wide strategies focused on Veterans. 

Atlas has also supported numerous homelessness initiatives in the past. Our company’s portfolio includes such projects as Employment Training for Homeless Veterans, Housing First Advisory and Technical Assistance Services, and the Rural Homeless Outreach and Homeless Prevention Services Project. Atlas facilitates partnerships and outreach, identifying Veterans who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness to determine service needs, enhance enrollment, and facilitate clinical assessment and consultation.

Services and Projects

  • Baseline assessments
  • Research, studies, and reports
  • Homeless Veteran case management
  • Policy and planning support
  • Health education and training development
  • Community outreach and partnership development
  • Field-based operational support
Wendy Opsahl
Vice President