Unemployment is a serious challenge for American veterans, particularly those transitioning from or at-risk of becoming homeless. Currently, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is nearly twice the rate of the civilian population.
For the past two months, 25 U.S.VETS clients were hired by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to conduct in-person surveys with homeless people across Los Angeles County. Every two years, LAHSA – the lead homeless agency in the region – conducts a comprehensive count of homeless people in the county, which helps Congress and other stakeholders understand the extent of homelessness in our region. LAHSA then follows up the count with interviews with homeless individuals to find out more information about why they are homeless, where they come from, their age and other vital demographic information. As LAHSA’s Executive Director Michael Arnold says, understanding the problem is the first step to solving it.
Our vets did amazing work on the two-month job. They started early, worked long days (rain or shine) and showed the professionalism, dedication, compassion and persistence needed to get more than 3,000 homeless people to participate in the interviews.
But LAHSA didn’t stop there. The agency then wrote up a summary of each of the veterans who had worked on the project and sent out a request to hundreds of their service providers, stakeholders and sister agencies, asking them to consider hiring the veterans in permanent jobs. With the boost of support from LAHSA, many unemployed vets are well on their way to finding meaningful employment again.
For more information about LAHSA and the homeless count, please go to www.lahsa.org.