How many chronically homeless veterans in Utah? Zero
A huge infusion of money and effort has left Utah in an enviable position when it comes to chronic homelessness among veterans: It essentially has been erased.
In fact, Utah has more than 80 transitional apartments just waiting to be filled by veterans, said Al Hernandez, coordinator of homeless-veteran programs at the George E. Wahlen Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Hernandez spoke at a press conference Wednesday to announce the 2013 Point in Time Count of homeless residents, taken in January.
Chronic veteran homelessness is now less of a problem, but there are always veterans who evade the count, don't identify themselves as veterans or are newly homeless, Hernandez has said.
Overall homelessness among veterans was down 13 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who released the Point in Time Count. Bell is chairman of the State Homeless Coordinating Council
There are different ways to define "effective zero," Hernandez said, "but the reality is, we have a system in place to truly serve every homeless veteran in our state. That's a pretty neat thing."
The VA partners with Housing and Urban Development and local housing authorities to provide apartments and rental units for veterans.
This spring, the Salt Lake Housing Authority opened the 72-apartment Valor House on the VA campus.
Nationally, the Obama administration has pledged to end homelessness among veterans by 2015.