Last week, the city of Phoenix made a startling announcement. The Arizona capital had previously identified 222 chronically homeless veterans living in the city, more than half of them veterans of the Vietnam War. These were men and women who'd been living on the streets for more than a year, or who'd been repeatedly homeless across even longer stretches of time. On average, they'd been without housing for a total of eight years. And many of them were living with multiple, compounding problems: unemployment, substance abuse, mental and physical illness.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said last week that every last one of them now had a roof overhead. The city has effectively ended chronic veteran homelessness, according to the mayor, a lofty-sounding policy goal that no other U.S. city has achieved.