Monday, November 12, 2007

Homeless vets and Housing

Veterans of foreign wars are disproportionately likely to become homeless, despite holding higher levels of education and a higher socioeconomic status than the general population. Veterans represent roughly 26 percent of homeless people, but only 11 percent of the civilian population 18 years and older. This is true despite the fact that veterans are better educated, more likely to be employed, and have a lower poverty rate than the general population. The number of homeless vets is likely expected to rise with the return of recent veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While vets will not be immediately face homelessness (i.e., there was some delay before vets of Vietnam became homeless), perhaps the impending scenario can be prevented through good policy.
It is highly ironic that, at a time when foreclosure rates are soaring from the subprime meltdown, veterans should be homeless. While government spending can prop the economy up (as witnessed by the WPA projects of the Great Depression), in this case it can solve two problems at once: what I propose is this--rather than allowing lenders to purchase the homes at fire-sale prices off the auction block, perhaps the government should start purchasing these homes in strategic locations to use as group homes or for homeless vets to use, while getting on their feet.


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