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Public Sector Spending on San Diego Homeless Veterans (February 2012)

Monday, February 13, 2012

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This report hopes to inform policymakers about this issue by examining three interrelated aspects of the problem of veteran homelessness in San Diego County.

• First, there is only a cursory understanding of the problem’s scope. To improve this understanding, our report uses two methodologies to estimate the number of San Diego veterans who experience homelessness on any particular night and the number who experience at least one night of homelessness over a 12-month period.
• Second, most homelessness spending goes toward reactive activities, especially health care and law enforcement. This report identifies the myriad programs that attempt to combat homelessness among veterans and aggregates spending for federal fiscal year 2009. We group these programs into two categories—reactive and proactive—and detail the amount of money invested in them in 2009–10 using a variety of federal databases. We believe that shifting funds from reactive to proactive programs would more cost effectively help veterans to end the cycle of homelessness.
• Third, younger veterans are separating from the military in perhaps the most diffi cult economic climate of the last 70 years. National data suggest that, in contrast to older veterans, post-9/11 vets are more likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts and are participating in the workforce at lower rates. In addition, nation-wide recent a high percentage of veterans are fi nding work in economic sectors such as with the federal government and manufacturing. These are sectors which are underdeveloped in San Diego, potentially indicating a structural disconnect between the kinds of jobs being created in San Diego and the interests and experiences of recent-veterans. While a challenging employment outlooklikely increases the risk that discharging veterans will face greater economic uncertainty and, in some cases, increased housing insecurity. We examine the broader trends that make the issue of veteran homelessness particularly timely.