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Number of homeless veterans on the decline | To The Point

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released figures this month, showing America’s homeless population is shrinking.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — As the nation honors those who served, on Veterans Day, it’s worth reflecting on the number of veterans who are experiencing homelessness.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released some hopeful news. The department said homelessness among veterans has dropped 11% in the last two years.

"The data show that on a single night in January 2022, there were 33,136 Veterans who were experiencing homelessness in the United States – down from 37,252 in 2020," the report says. "Overall, this represents a 55.3% reduction in Veterans experiencing homelessness since 2010."

Of the more than 33,000 veterans without permanent housing across the nation, it's estimated about a third of them live in California.

For the past two months, 85-year-old U.S. Navy veteran John Bennett has been living at Mather Veterans Village in Rancho Cordova.

"I was in from February of '57 to February of '61. Third Class Boatswain Mate,” Bennett said.

He became homeless after his sister died of pancreatic cancer and his family wanted to sell her North Sacramento house, Bennett said.

"I was living in my sister's house. I lived there for about almost 20 years, and I got evicted because they put the house up for sale,” he said. “I had to get out quick, you know...and I wound up here. My son hooked me up to this because he was in the Marines."

Mather Veterans Village is a mix of permanent supportive housing and transitional housing. Bennett is in the latter, “until you can find your permanent apartment, so this is this is what it is, you know,” he said.

He's on a waiting list for permanent housing.

"I hope before Christmas, you know. Tell me you can move, you know. That'd be the best thing that ever happened,” Bennett said.

The last survey of Sacramento County’s homeless population – conducted back in January – shows 625 veterans are experiencing homelessness on any given night. That’s a 6% decrease from the last count, done in 2019.

Asked whether he thinks veterans should be prioritized for housing, Bennett said, “Yeah, I don't see why not. Yes, indeed. They need a spot, you know, just like everybody else do."

Watch: How a teacher changed a future award-winning author's life | To The Point

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