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By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

Homeless Native American Veterans Poised to Receive Millions of Dollars in Aid

Native American Veteran Homelessness

When you close your eyes and envision US war veterans, who do you see? That image is skewed if your mental picture did not include numerous Indigenous/Native American warriors clad in naval wear or army fatigues.

According to the National Congress of American Indians, more than 150,000 US war veterans are of Indigenous/Native American descent. This is a substantial number considering the fact that only 2% of the entire US population lays claim to this ethnic heritage.

Native Americans are already experiencing homelessness at rates as high as 26x that of other ethnic groups. When you consider that US war veterans also experience homelessness at drastically higher rates, it becomes clear that this group of people is a double minority rarely spoken of in the press.

Yet, this year, perhaps due to the pandemic opening our eyes to previously overlooked groups, this small but important population is finally being considered. In late September of 2021, HUD announced that tribal leaders would be awarded $4.4 million toward supportive housing for Native American veterans.

About the Tribal HUD-VASH Program

Established in 2015, this unique program was created to provide permanent housing and services for homeless war veterans hailing from 28 distinct tribes. It is a collaborative effort that attempts to combine the works of tribal housing, urban development housing, and the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

Collectively, these organizations are tasked with the following:

  • Recognizing Native veterans who are at risk for homelessness or are already experiencing it
  • Providing various social services to individuals and families who match the above description
  • Conducting case management designed to help vulnerable people and families to exit homelessness
  • Providing rental assistance
  • Providing permanent housing and more

Expansion of the Program

The Tribal HUD-VASH program, which previously functioned using just a little over $5 million in funding, has since expanded to include $4.4 million more. Organizers anticipate helping approximately 95 new Native American veterans into housing utilizing these funds.

The program has aided in housing approximately 600 homeless Native American veterans since its inception in 2015. This is a great start, but there is still so much that needs to be done.

This Cause Combines the Plight of Not One but Two Under-Recognized Minority Groups

Nearly a quarter of the current homeless population consists of US military veterans. Due to the dangerous nature of becoming a soldier, this job description automatically carries a statistically higher risk for homelessness.

As this truth was brought to light, our nation strived to do better to combat the crisis. Unfortunately, after many years of reduction in the rates of veteran homelessness, the rates are back on the rise.

This was true in the years leading up to the pandemic and has only worsened in the wake of the international crisis.

With retail employment on its way out and multiple other professions quickly disappearing to make way for automation, servicemen and women are slowly but surely being squeezed out of the labor force at every turn.

These statistics look even more dismal when you add Native/Indigenous American status. This ethnic group is already experiencing what the National Low Income Housing Coalition called “some of the worst housing needs in the United States.”

Affordable housing on tribal lands is sparse and often combined with crippling poverty. For this reason, much of the available housing exhibits one or more of the following issues:

  • Overcrowding
  • Lack of plumbing
  • Electrical issues
  • No heat
  • Poor structure
  • Poor foundation
  • No internet
  • No phone

Unlike other communities, homeless and housed, 50% of Native American homes have no phone service. Sixteen percent of these structures have limited plumbing or no indoor plumbing whatsoever.

40% of all available housing on tribal land falls under the category of “substandard” in terms of livability. Behind these abhorrent housing conditions are a handful of problems that remain unsolved. The main issue is communal poverty. Other factors include:

  • Unstable housing market
  • Lack of private investment
  • General lack of government funding
  • Little promotion of homeownership
  • An ever-growing and understandable distrust for government agencies

While not expressly stated in any available literature, the idea that this desolate poverty and uninhabitable housing could be a driving force behind military enlistment should be seriously considered.

It is a sad truth that the same people who have been fighting to protect the land we now know as America are still very much at war. They are losing their lives and their homes in the crossfire of a battle that should have long been left behind.

Contact your representatives and urge them to make Native American veteran homelessness a top priority.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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