WASHINGTON — The number of homeless veterans in the United States counted on a single night this year declined 7.2 percent from the previous year, a reduction significantly higher than that seen in the general population, according to figures released Monday.
Overall, the number of homeless people in the country declined only slightly, to 633,782 counted on a single night in January, about 0.4 percent lower than the previous year. The figures included a 1.4 percent increase in homeless people who are part of households that have at least one adult and one child.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said the point-in-time numbers are nonetheless relatively positive, given the state of the economy when the survey was conducted in January.
"We continue to see a stable level of homelessness across our country at a time of great stress for those at risk of losing their housing," Donovan said during a conference call with reporters Monday.
The decline in veterans' homelessness, from 67,495 in January 2011 to 62,619 in January 2012, followed a 12 percent reduction between 2010 and 2011. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said the 17.2 percent decline since January 2009 keeps the Obama administration on track to meet its promise to end veterans' homelessness by 2015.
"We are building momentum," Shinseki said Monday.
The decrease in the homeless veterans population is largely attributable to the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program that provides permanent housing to homeless veterans.