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North Georgia Veterans Participate in HUD Annual Homeless Count

PRESS RELEASE

 

(Feb. 7, 2024) – HUD released on December 15 the 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), Part 1, which provides estimates of homelessness in the U.S. The 2023 report estimates that approximately 653,100 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2023 – a 12% increase (or about 70,650 more people) from 2022.

In 2023, there were 67,495 homeless veterans. Veterans comprise 10.6% of all homeless in the U.S. and are 2x as likely to become homeless versus those who didn’t serve in the military. https://vaclaimsinsider.com/how-many-veterans-are-there. If you assumed equal distribution of homeless Veterans across each state that would mean that there are over 1,000 homeless Veterans here in Georgia. This is not what is being reported due to lack of valid data.

  • ? Georgia is the 3 rd largest Veteran population in the nation
  • ? Georgia has the largest female Veteran population of any state in the nation
  • ? 40% of all homeless Veterans have some type of mental health issue
  • ? 9% of homeless Veterans are female – some with children. These female Veterans at some time during their bout with homelessness have thought of suicide
  • ? According to reports – Veteran Homelessness rose 12% in 2023
  • ? According to reports, 40% of all Georgia Veteran families live in poverty

During the period of January 22 nd through January 29 th , for the ninth year a team of Veterans in north Georgia headed up by the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program (CCHVP), part of American Legion Post 45 in Canton, and Veterans from Vietnam Veterans of America, VFW, Cherokee Veterans Community, VETBUDS, and Cherokee Homeless Coalition searched a four county area for Homeless to include Homeless Veterans.

The four counties searched which include Cherokee, Pickens, Dawson, and Forsyth were selected as they are also part of a SAMHSA mental health grant targeted for Veterans noted Jim Lindenmayer, Director of CCHVP and Legion Post 45 Service Officer. During our count we encountered three Veterans living in their car, three single female Veterans with small children who were homeless, four Veterans who
reported mental health or addiction issues and two females fleeing from domestic Violence. We also are continuing to look for additional homeless Veterans that we were made aware of but so far have been unable to find.

In addition to the Veteran Homeless, the teams encountered a number of civilian homeless, 13 in Pickens and Forsyth counties, two in Dawson county and just shy of 100 homeless in Cherokee County. Information or backpacks were provided to the non-Veterans as to where they might seek help. The low response rate that we saw for the week of the count was due to rain and cold weather, as many
homeless were not out and about.

This sounds like there is not a homeless problem, however we encountered some other data that should
be noted that would suggest otherwise:

  • ? School districts report homeless in accordance with the McKinney-Vento Act.  The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act authorizes the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It was reauthorized in December 2015 by Title IX, Part A, of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

o Cherokee County School District is reporting @200 elementary and middle school children as being homeless
o Forsyth County School District is reporting @650 children in their school district as being homeless.
o No Data was provided by Pickens or Dawson County Schools
o The numbers above do not include parents or guardians so add another 1,700+ people as being homeless with school age children

  • ? Food pantries and food banks need to do a better job in reporting homeless

o In our pre-work on locating homeless that may be living in vehicles in Cherokee County we were made aware that very few food pantries ask if the person is homeless
o In talking to Dawson Count Food back, they gave out 190,000 lbs. of food to 8,000 people in the month of December. While this is great news, you have to look at the fact that Dawson County only has just over 26,000 residents. This would mean that one third of the county came to the food bank.

We currently have all of the Veterans we encountered in temporary housing in local hotels and have referred those with mental health or addiction issues to our partner AboutFACEUSA who leads the SAMHSA Veteran mental health Grant.

Lindenmayer also noted that only 34 of the eligible 152 rural counties to be counted were actually counted this year in the state of Georgia. This represents roughly 22% of all counties that should have been counted. Due to lack of focus on counting, Georgia ranks 26 th in Federal Grants for Veteran housing program dollars for HUD VASH and SSVF.

The annual Point in Time (PIT) count is sponsored nationally by Housing and outlines the key findings of the Point-In-Time (PIT) count and Housing Inventory Urban Development (HUD) and the state of Georgia agency that handles the count for the 152 rural counties called the Balance of State Continuum of Care (BOS COC) is the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The results of the annual homeless count is reported to HUD, which then issues the annual report to Congress.
https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/2023-ahar-part-1-pit-estimates-of-homelessness.html
This report Count (HIC) conducted in January 2023. Specifically, this report provides 2023 national, state, and CoC-level PIT and HIC estimates of homelessness, as well as estimates of chronically homeless persons, homeless veterans, and homeless children and youth.

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