NH makes strides to solve problem of veteran homelessness

HUD Secretary Carson calls results in Granite State encouraging

November 12, 2019
Mike Cherry

New Hampshire has been making improvements in sheltering homeless veterans, but advocates said Tuesday there is more work to be done.

According to the latest Point-in-Time Homeless Count, the Granite State has experienced a 21% drop in veteran homelessness compared to last year. In Manchester, the number of homeless veterans fell by 32%

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visited Manchester on Tuesday and said the results are encouraging. Nationwide, the rate of unsheltered veterans dropped 2% last year.

“I think you have the people who are willing to work together at the government level and at the private sector level,” Carson said.

State officials said 6% of homeless veterans in New Hampshire do not have any shelter. California has the highest rate of unsheltered veterans, at 70%.

“I think we make a mistake when we expect the federal government to take care of all the problems,” Carson said. “That was never the role of the federal government as our country was designed. But things that really work are the public-private partnerships.”

In Manchester, officials with New Horizons said homelessness continues to be a serious issue for more than just veterans. Cathy Kuhn, of New Horizons, said the number of people helped by the nonprofit has surpassed 2018’s total.

“Right now, we’ve served 1,128 people as of last night,” Kuhn said. “Last year, our number was 1,076.”

Advocates said the primary reason for homelessness is a lack of housing supply.

“Landlords, they can choose who they want to rent to and sometimes, if someone doesn’t have the best rental history or there more barriers to housing stability, then a landlord doesn’t have to take a chance,” Kuhn said.

Carson said he believes local programs can end the stigma. He singled out the city of San Diego, which promised to pay landlords for damage done by tenants who used federal vouchers.

“Then, the resistance melted immediately, and it costs the city nothing because no one was damaging property,” he said. “So sometimes, you have to deal with the perception.”

According to HUD, more than 150,000 formerly homeless veterans have moved into housing with a federally assisted voucher since 2008.

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