Definition of Homeless
Public Law 100-77, signed into law on July 22, 1987, known as the “McKinney Act,” identifies a homeless person as one who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence; and who has a primary nighttime residence that is a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter, a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or a public or private place not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.
What causes Veterans Homelessness?
Many of these homeless veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that often occurs after extreme emotional trauma involving threat or injury.
Other causes of homelessness include:
- Disabilities – physical injury or mental illness
- Substance abuse – drug abuse or alcoholism
- Family breakdown
- Joblessness and poverty
- Lack of low cost housing
- Lack of transportation
Veterans are more likely than civilians to experience homelessness. Like the general homeless population, veterans are at a significantly increased risk of homelessness if they have low socioeconomic status, a mental health disorder, and/or a history of substance abuse. Yet, because of veterans’ military service, this population is at higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), both of which have been found to be among the most substantial risk factors for homelessness.
Among the recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans—who are more frequently female than their older counterparts—an experience of sexual trauma while serving in the military greatly increases the risk of homelessness. Additionally, veterans often experience difficulty returning to civilian life, particularly those without strong social support networks, and may not have skills that can be easily transferred to employment outside of the military. Veterans face the same shortage of affordable housing options and living wage jobs as all Americans, and these factors—combined with the increased likelihood that veterans will exhibit symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, or mental illness—can compound to put veterans at a greater risk of homelessness than the general population.
What services do veterans need?
Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment. Additionally, veterans need job assessment, training and placement assistance.
What seems to work best?
The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding at bettering themselves.
Government money, while important, is limited, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities that most Americans take for granted: housing, employment and health care. Veterans who participate in collaborative programs are afforded more services and have higher chances of becoming tax-paying, productive citizens again.*
*National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, FAQ about Homeless Veterans
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
MIEHE VETERANS TRANSITIONAL HOME
420 E 9TH STREET WATERLOO, IA
IS THIS HOUSE FOR MEN OR WOMEN?
Only for men, we are working on a women’s transitional home in the future.
HOW MANY MEN CAN THE HOUSE ACCOMMODATE?
There are 3 bedrooms for 3 men.
HOW LONG ARE THEY ALLOWED TO STAY IN THE HOUSE?
It depends on the individual and their case goals.
WHO PROVIDES THE CASE MANAGEMENT?
We are working with Goodwill Industries of Northeast Iowa for them to provide the supportive services for the veterans in the home.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THE VETERANS FOR THE HOUSE?
We work close with the Veteran Affairs Commission of Black Hawk County and Hawkeye Area Community Action Program for referrals of veterans in need of our program.
DOES THE VETERAN NEED FURNISHINGS?
Through many local donations we have the TRANSITIONAL home furnished and move in ready for each veteran.
DOES THE VETERAN NEED TO BE EMPLOYED?
No employment is necessary to move into the home. If the veteran does not have employment, we will work with them to find immediate employment and provide job training to acquire a permanent position in the future.