Abstract for: A Model For Eliminating Veteran Homelessness in the USA

Today, military veterans are disproportionally represented in the homeless population of the United States. In an effort to combat this alarming trend, President Obama’s administration has established a goal to eliminate homelessness among veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs has embarked on an ambitious strategy to meet this objective using a portfolio of housing, prevention, treatment, and employment programs. A system dynamics model was built to help program leaders better understand, manage, and communicate the dynamic complexities of eliminating homelessness. This model, based upon carefully collected historical homeless population and program performance data, captures the flow of veterans from discharge from active duty through various stages of homelessness, into and out of multiple treatment programs, and ultimately into permanent housing. The capacity and performance of programs in the model are tied to funding levels, allowing program leadership to gain insight into the system-wide impact of different funding scenarios on the homeless veteran population over time. A Monte Carlo approach was used to provide bounded estimates of homelessness among veterans in future years. The model has been successfully used as additional justification for requested funding and management decisions, and continues to be refined as new data become available.