Nashville is trying to track down every homeless military veteran in the city, with a goal of finding housing for all of them this year.
There’s quite a bit of guesswork when it comes to counting homeless veterans. But Nashville did come up with a number: 595.
“But it is an estimate, and we are trying to just see if it really holds water,” said Will Connelly, director of the Metro Homelessness Commission.
Local nonprofits have found housing for 167 vets this year as part of a specific focus of the "How's Nashville" campaign, which has been ongoing since 2013. The local effort follows a Department of Veterans Affairs goal of completely ending veteran homelessness before 2016.
That’s not easy. Homeless veterans move often and service records aren’t easy to confirm.
So the newest local idea is for the groups to work together on a specific list of all known veterans who don’t have a place to live.
This approach wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, said Diane Kuhn, chairwoman of the commission.
“It was very fragmented in our community. Now those groups are all working together,” she said. “Unfortunately, the data is kept in all these different places. And that’s just the way it’s been. So we’ve been working really hard on trying to get the data together in one place.”
Making contact with each veteran is the first step — securing stable housing can be just as tough.