1. Military

Number of homeless veterans in Tampa Bay dropping faster than nationwide

OCTAVIO JONES | Times (2016) Thomas \u201CT-Man\u201D Brown, left, works with Tampa Crossroads, which assists homeless veterans in Hillsborough County. \uFEFF
Published Nov. 1, 2018

The number of homeless veterans in the Tampa Bay area is dropping, and at a faster rate than the national average, according to statistics released Thursday.

Nationwide, the number of homeless veterans has dropped by 5.4 percent compared to last year, said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. HUD's "Annual Homeless Assessment Report" put the total number of veterans experiencing homelessness in January 2018 at 37,878. That compares to 40,020 a year earlier.

The news is even better in the Tampa Bay area, where the number of homeless veterans dropped by 12 percent, from 905 to 800, between the count conducted in January 2018 and the previous year, according to statistics provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs region covering Florida.

During a media call, Carson chalked up the improvements to continued emphasis on a program combining HUD and VA efforts to offer an array of services to help veterans deal with issues leading to homelessness.

The Obama-era HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, continued under the Trump administration, combines voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. The VA provides the services at its medical centers and community-based outreach clinics. Since 2010, the number of homeless veterans nationwide has dropped by nearly half.

Last year, more than 4,000 veterans found permanent housing and support services through the program, HUD said.

"We owe it to our veterans to make certain they have a place to call home," Carson said. "We've made great strides in our efforts to end veteran homelessness, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure those who wore our nation's uniform have access to stable housing."

Locally, Pinellas has seen a far greater decrease in the number of homeless veterans than Hillsborough or Pasco.

In Pinellas, the number dropped 14.6 percent, from 329 last year to 281 this year. In Hillsborough, there was a drop of less than 1 percent, from 172 homeless veterans in 2017 to 171 in 2018. In Pasco, there was a drop of 2.7 percent, from 220 homeless veterans in 2017 to 214 homeless veterans in 2018.

St. Vincent de Paul CARES works with homeless veterans in Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, and Hillsborough counties. Chief executive Michael Raposa said the secret is service providers and VA "continuum of care" networks working together.

Sara Romeo, CEO and executive director of Tampa Crossroads, which works with homeless veterans in Hillsborough, said a shortage of affordable housing remains an impediment there.

"Right now the biggest issue is not funding," she said. "It is housing inventory. We are at 100 percent occupancy in Hillsborough County so finding a landlord to rent to the vet is the biggest problem."

Raposa, of St. Vincent de Paul, disagreed.

"The lack of affordable housing is an unacceptable excuse," he said. "Of the 1,590 clients (1,064 households) served last fiscal year systemwide, there is not one of them remaining homeless because of a lack of affordable housing."

Contact Howard Altman at or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.


  1. A homeless Vietnam War veteran in Clearwater answers questions for a Pinellas County homeless survey. A shortage of affordable housing is considered a major cause of homelessness among vets in the Tampa Bay area. [Times files]
    Local agency leaders called on members of Congress to increase national affordable housing options as a solution to veteran homelessness
  2. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer drops from a helicopter during a training exercise off Honeymoon Island State Park in 2012. Jim Damaske
    The bizarre threat and fakes calls for help are being transmitted over marine radio. It sounds like the same man, the Coast Guard said.
  3. MacDill Air Force Base will observe a full-day, "resilience tactical pause'' Friday to address a growing number of suicides in the Air Force. Airmen will participate in team-building activities and small-group discussions on mental health. This is happening at military bases across the U.S.  [Times files].
    An estimated 78 airmen nationwide have taken their lives this year, prompting leaders to boost prevention efforts
  4. Dr. Dominick Gulli and Tammy Alsing recently launched Cope Well Counseling Associates at 415 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon. ERIC VICIAN   | Special to the Times
    Dr. Dominick Gulli and Tammy Alsing recently opened their office at 415 Lithia Pinecrest Rd.
  5. Researchers from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa participated in a newly released study that links post-traumatic stress disorder to ovarian cancer risk.
    A researcher from Moffitt Cancer Center participated in the study, which found that those with six or more symptoms of PTSD had double the risk of getting the disease.
  6. Capt. Joseph McGilley, commanding officer of Air Station Clearwater, center, gives an update on Wednesday about the air station's work in the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas. He stands inside a hangar on the Air Station Clearwater property in front of a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the same type being used in search and rescue efforts in the Bahamas. [JOSH SOLOMON   |   Times] JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon, Tampa Bay Times
    Cargo planes, helicopters and people are all part of the effort.
  7. KC-135 Stratotankers will be evacuated from MacDill Air Force Case to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas ahead of Hurricane Dorian.  [Times]
    The aircraft are being sent to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas as a precaution with high winds projected during the storm
  8. A bulldozer dumps a load of trash into a burn pit 300 yards from the runway at Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield in this 2012 photo. The Pentagon later built a trash disposal plant at the busy military base but a number of crude burn pits, still spewing toxic fumes, remain in operation. [Mark Rankin] HOWARD ALTMAN  |  Mark Rankin
    A number of veterans have been locked out of VA medical care and disability benefits for illnesses that often are terminal.
  9. Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, right, speaks while Clinic Director Karen Blanchette, left, Michael Sullivan, a Cohen Veterans Network Board Member, center, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, look on during a ceremony Monday marking the opening of the Florida Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] "OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Times
    The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners will fill mental health service gaps for veterans and their family members.
  10. The Veterans Resurgence Program inside the Falkenburg Road Jail houses up to 60 veterans who can receive resources and counseling while serving time. Courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    Sheriff Chad Chronister’s Veterans Resurgence Program offers resources, counseling to incarcerated vets