"Providing housing and needed services for our veterans can be complicated in rural areas due to vast geographies, limited resources and less social service infrastructure," the brief reports. As the wars overseas wind down, more veterans will return to the U.S. In the next 10 years, about 70 percent of rural veterans will be 65 or older. Younger veterans are more likely to struggle with costs; about 34 percent of rural veterans in their 20s and 25 percent of veterans in their 30s experience affordability issues compared with 20.3 of veterans 55 and over, the brief says.
While 83.3 percent of rural veterans own homes, that is partially due to the overall older ages of rural veterans, and it also reflects a lack of affordable rental housing in rural areas. Unlike the overall affordability issues that mostly pertain to younger veterans, more older veteran renters struggle with affordability issues than their younger counterparts. "An astounding 47.6 percent of veteran renters over age 55 are cost-burdened compared to 37.2 percent of individuals in the 20s and 26.6 of those in their 30s," the brief reports.
In Kansas, more than a third of the homeless are veterans, and in West Virginia, one in four is. "Many veterans live with the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, further complicating their ability to maintain safe, secure housing," the brief says.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced a five-year plan in 2009 to fight homelessness among vets. "The program combines the HUD Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA for veterans experiencing homelessness." The program has significantly reduced veteran homelessness, but some rural veterans—particularly those who live in very remote areas—experience difficulties participating in the program because they live so far away from the facility. Thus, it's difficult for them and their case managers to easily travel. (Read more)