Lack of affordable housing for veterans hurts us all, report says

New research in the United States shows that among homeless veterans, homeless experiences correlate with individual and community risk factors.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Dr Stefan Kertesz of Birmingham VA Medical Center, professor in the division of preventive medicine at UAB, said the study aimed to objectively examine the causes of homeless homelessness in a survey of 5,406 veterans who have been homeless over the past two and a half years.

“Some argue that homeless homelessness is best treated as an addiction problem,” Kertesz said. “I’m an addict doctor, and I can say that’s why every once in a while someone ends up on the street; but we wanted to offer a more comprehensive and factual account of why some end up without shelter and on the streets. “

The survey examined personal and community characteristics, citing nine personal factors and two community factors, including low income, criminal justice or a history of prison, poor social support, great psychological distress, medical conditionsdrug problem, warm weather, and the low availability of shelter beds.

Kertesz says each of the personal and community characteristics moderately added to a person’s risk of being homeless or homeless, ranging from 10 to 50 percent. When stacked, the more risk factors a person had, the more likely they were to have been homeless in the six months preceding the survey.

Yet Kertesz says many continue to polarize the debate over homelessness.

“Let’s depolarize it homeless discussion using evidence, ”he says. “Yes, personal vulnerabilities can help us understand who will end up homeless; but it’s just not a vulnerability like addiction. It really is a stack of vulnerabilities. The more you have, the more likely you are to find yourself homeless. “

“These are things that we can really fix, in part thanks to our community policies and the types of assistance we offer,” he says.

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