Homeless vets roundtable set for convention

The American Legion will bring homeless veterans advocates, policymakers and representatives from various government entities to Houston for its annual Homeless Veterans Roundtable. The event, which coincides with the Legion’s national convention, aims to find solutions for a homelessness problem that has gotten better but still has room to improve.

The roundtable will convene the weekend before the Legion’s national convention on Aug. 24 at the George R. Brown Convention Center from 10 a.m. to noon.

Among the current participants are officials from the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Labor, and representatives from the Public Housing Authority, Cloudbreak Communities and U.S. VETS. Representatives from the Home Depot Foundation and Community Solutions will also give a presentation on their company’s housing initiative for homeless veterans.

This year’s Homeless Veterans Roundtable will focus, particularly, on the progress that has been made on the homeless veterans issue since VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced three and a half years ago that he planned to end veterans homelessness within five years. The announcement came with a projected $3.2 billion backing, innovative strategies to tackle the problem and some criticism from veterans advocates who viewed the goal as grandiose or unrealistic.

Largely, Shinseki and VA have made good on their promise, as recent estimates have found that veterans make up around 13 percent of the overall homeless population. This represents a sharp decrease since Shinseki’s announcement in January of 2009, when estimates found that veterans made up around 20 percent of the overall homeless population.