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In June 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama issued a Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness across America. Elected officials were encouraged to join, support, and lead in this effort. In support of this effort, seventy-one communities across 30 states and the District of Columbia participated in the 2016 campaign, which launched in December 2015 with aims to end veteran and chronic homelessness by December 2016.

Organizations and agencies from across the state have spearheaded this effort. The Florida Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA), and the Florida Coalition to End Homelessness provided primary leadership for this work. The Florida Interagency Council on Homelessness was established to develop policy and make recommendations on how to reduce homelessness throughout Florida. This coalition, however, lacked a necessary cohesive task force to bring additional statewide leaders, to provide guidance and oversight to the work.

Florida’s work aligns with a national focus on ending veterans' homelessness. This national goal was first established in the 2010 release and subsequent implementation of “Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness,” which challenged the nation to end veterans' homelessness by 2015. Specifically, the plan called communities to build and implement a response system that ensures that homelessness is prevented whenever possible and, if it cannot be prevented, ensures that the veterans' homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience. Subsequently, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) issued specific benchmarks and criteria to guide local efforts and evaluate cities and states on their work to end veterans' homelessness.

Through these and other focused activities, significant progress has been made toward the goal of ending homelessness in Florida. No specific focus has been placed on addressing veterans' homelessness, however. According to Point-In-Time (PIT) data (2020), the total number of homeless persons in the U.S. in 2015 was estimated at 406,944. U.S. homeless Veterans were estimated at 47,725; thus making up 11% of the total population of homelessness in the U.S. In 2019, this figure had not realized a significant change; 429,303 U.S. homeless persons to include 37,085 veterans (8%).


In Florida during the 2015 time-frame, the total homelessness rate was 35,900 with Veterans making up 10% of the total homeless population. This figure, according to PIT (2020) data decreased by less than 2% by 2019.

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