Under the Flag, Without a Roof

New report shows veterans increasingly likely to become homeless.

On Veterans Day, there are some sobering new figures about what happens to ex-military personnel when they leave the forces.

The Homeless Research Institute released a report on Friday that, on any one night in 2006, there were up to 195,827 homeless veterans on the streets of America. In total, almost half a million ex-service personnel were homeless at some point during the year, and another half a million were spending more than half their income on rent, placing them at high risk of becoming homeless.

With 1,612,948 registered veterans in Texas, the institute records that 15,967 were homeless in 2006, up more than 500 from 2005. On top of that, 28,745 faced severe housing costs burdens, meaning 2.8% of all veterans were either homeless or in serious danger of becoming so.

Even though veterans only account for 11% of the population, they account for 26% of the homeless population or possibly even higher: In August the National Coalition of the Homeless put that figure up around 40%. There is a strange leveling effect hidden in the numbers. Among the general population, black nonveterans are 2.9 times as likely to be homeless as white nonveterans. Among veterans, that's down to 1.4 times. Homeless veterans are also more likely to be better educated and more likely to have been or still be married.

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