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Veteran Homelessness

November 11, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Jill Barnas

Executive Summary 

Missouri is home to approximately 443,000 veterans, which accounts for approximately 7% of the state population. Veterans face unique challenges when searching for safe and affordable housing as a result of factors such as poverty, multiple deployments, and mental health conditions that increase the risk of experiencing homelessness. While substantial progress has been made to reduce veteran homelessness over the last decade, service programs have an important role in reducing veteran homelessness. In 2021, 22 states including Missouri filed legislation pertaining to the reduction of veteran homelessness. 

Highlights

  • Between 2012 and 2020, Missouri veteran homelessness decreased by approximately 50%. Currently, 453 individuals experiencing homelessness in the state are veterans.
  • Compared to non-veteran homeless populations, homeless veterans are more likely to report at least one chronic medical condition and multiple mental health conditions, including substance abuse.
    • Homeless female veterans have higher rates of military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and are more likely to have dependent children.  
  • There is a link between homelessness and incarceration; incarcerated veterans have a higher rate of homelessness compared to other incarcerated subpopulations.
  • State legislation that addresses veteran homelessness has predominantly focused on home loans, rental protections, adapted housing developments, and grant programs for developing housing.  

 Limitations

  • Existing data provide a snapshot of veterans experiencing homelessness on one day rather than over the course of a year. 
    • The 2020 Report for the Balance of State Continuum of Care indicates that 20% of the homeless veteran population live in rural areas. Most recent reports for the remaining seven Continuum of Cares are not yet available.
    • These data were collected in January 2020, before COVID-19 was declared a national public health emergency. The data presented does not reflect any housing changes caused by the pandemic.
  • These data do not provide statistics that combine multiple demographic categories, such  as race and gender. It is not possible to conclude which subgroups are most affected by homelessness (e.g., black males) in Missouri beyond either race or gender.
    • Female veterans experiencing homelessness may be underidentified in research studies; more research may be warranted to improve homeless services to female veterans.
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