Person wearing military gear sitting on a bench

Why Does Veteran Homelessness Exist?

Sep 13, 2021

Veteran homelessness is an unfortunate reality. Though many organizations (like ours) work hard to eliminate the problem, there are still an estimated 37,000 veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States. In Minnesota, 7% of the estimated homeless population across the state are veterans. Veterans are more likely than the general population to experience homelessness. 

Barriers Keep Veteran Homelessness in Place

Veterans experiencing homelessness in Minnesota cite a lack of affordable housing, lack of credit, or no local rental history as the most common barriers to finding housing. These are similar to the barriers the general homeless population struggles with when trying to find housing. It’s clear that because our housing system does not address these flaws, the most vulnerable people suffer.

Lack of physical and mental health supports present another barrier. Veterans have a higher risk of developing PTSD or a traumatic brain injury, which in turn puts them at a higher risk for experiencing homelessness and going through repeated episodes of homelessness. In Minnesota, 93% of homeless veterans have at least one serious disabling condition, such as a mental illness or substance abuse disorder. One study suggests that providing housing along with the appropriate health services can help individuals avoid homelessness.

How Do We End Veteran Homelessness?

Veteran homelessness is solved in a similar way to general homelessness: by treating housing as a human right. The Housing First approach has been proven to be effective in reducing veteran homelessness. This model emphasizes getting individuals housed as the first service provided to them. Once individuals have a place to call home, they can more easily improve on other things in their lives, such as mental and physical health, substance abuse, employment, and general wellness.

Many places in the U.S. have eradicated veteran homelessness by using this model and by specifically targeting veterans with their housing programs. Which is exactly what we aim to do.

Operation OVER

Operation OVER (Opening Veterans to Every Resource) is a Guild program that aims to end veteran homelessness in Hennepin county. We take referrals from the Homeless Veteran Registry through MDVA. Learn more about Operation OVER here.

Donate to our innovative and effective services here.



Secretaries of HUD, VA joint statement on ending Veteran homelessness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Veterans, Wilder Research.

Veteran Homelessness, National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Rates and Risk Factors for Homelessness After Successful Housing in a Sample of Formerly Homeless Veterans, Psychiatry Online.

5 Key Facts About Homeless Veterans, National Alliance to End Homelessness.