Ending Veteran Homelessness

Team Members: Aneesh Agrawal, Reem Alfaiz, Jane Coffrin, and Michelle Thomas

The data say that in 2015 there were more than 47,000 homeless veterans across the United States. And while this number has decreased from the more than 78,000 homeless veterans in 2007, more needs to be done to end homelessness for our veterans. We want to tell this story because we value the service of these veterans have provided for our country and we want to continue to encourage decreasing the number of homeless veterans by asking for support from states and cities to help get these veterans out of shelters and streets by providing the support they need to find permanent housing.

Our audience is the citizens of the United States who care about our veterans and want to make an impact on their local communities. We will focus on reaching this audience through social media. Our goals are:

1. To praise City Mayors for joining the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

2. To encourage Mayors, that haven’t already, to join Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

3.To bring awareness to the number of Homeless Veterans within a viewer’s state.

In 2010 the Obama Administration released Opening Doors, the nation’s first strategic and aggressive plan to prevent and ultimately end homelessness. One of goals was to end veteran homelessness by 2015. In an effort to call officials into action, First Lady Michelle Obama issued the mayors challenge to end veteran homelessness which calls on mayors across the country to pledge to take steps towards the 2015 goal. Since 2010 the number of homeless veterans in the United States has decreased every year, but with more than 47,000 homeless veterans in 2015 there is a ways to go before veteran homelessness will end. We believe that more needs to be done to help end Veteran Homelessness. Although over 600 mayors have joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, we hope to continue to get more Mayors onboard to help eliminate veteran homelessness.

We used a map to show the number of Homeless Veterans per Capita in each state from 2007 to 2015. We think that this aligns with reality: veteran homelessness has been reduced since 2007, but there is still more work to be done. Our map is color coded by percentage of Homeless Veterans per Capita from the HUD Homelessness Data and Yearly State Population Estimates. It is also interactive and allows the user to scroll through time (from 2007 to 2015) as well investigate their own state via drop down menu to learn more about homeless veterans in their state. From there they are able to see the list of Mayors for the selected state that have already joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. If their Mayor is on the list, great! The user will be prompted to send their Mayor a pre-written thank you note for Joining the Challenge. If their Mayor is not on the list, the user will be prompted to send a pre-written letter encouraging their Mayor to pledge to end veteran homelessness.

You can check out the website here.

Our data sources were:

  1. HUD Homelessness Data → 2007-2015 Point-in-Time Estimates by State
  2. 2000-2010 Vintage State Population Estimates
  3. 2011-2014 Vintage State Population Estimates
  4. 2015 Vintage State Population Estimate

Creating More Beds for the Homeless

Team Members: Gary Burnett, Phillip Graham, Katie Marlowe

Finished Map

The data say that states that have a higher ratio of beds for the homeless to the amount of homeless people more frequently had a decrease in the number of homeless people from 2014-2015.

We want to tell this story because the homelessness epidemic is a big problem. There are 564,708 homeless people in the United States, and transitional housing is helping to lower this number.

This data would be presented at a convention about ending the homelessness epidemic, so our audience would be people attending the convention, who are most likely eager to help this issue. Our goal is to tell them that transitional housing can help be part of the solution, so that we can build support for transitional housing.

When looking at the data, we found that states with a decrease in homeless population tended to have more transitional housing. Specifically, they had a higher ratio of beds available to the number of homeless people.

There were, of course, some outliers. South Dakota had an increase in the homeless population by 17%, whereas no other state had an increase more than 10%, and they also have a high ratio of beds for the homeless. In general, the states in the North East also tended to not fit the trend. New York and New Hampshire both have a high ratio of beds, but had an increase in their homeless population.

We decided that a map would be a good representation for this data for a couple of reasons. First of all, this would be displayed at convention where a lot of people would walk by and look at it, so a map is an easy way for someone to locate their home state and see how they stack up to other states. It is also nice to see how different geographic regions compare. As stated earlier, the North East does not exactly fit the trend that most of the rest of the country follows. The South has, for the most part, seen a significant decrease in their homeless population, where the West Coast has seen a decent increase in their homeless population.