Behind the Home Depot Foundation's Focus on Ending Homelessness Among Veterans

The Home Depot Foundation recently granted over $1.75 million to Volunteers of America to help provide housing for veterans, a major focus of the foundation. 

Why is the Home Depot Foundation so interested in getting veterans into homes? Well, for starters, the home improvement retailer is a major employer of veterans, with about 35,000 former US service people working in its stores. Corporate funders are often very attuned to needs related to their workforce, and this is a great example of that. 

And housing is a logical focal point for Home Depot's giving, since the company is in a position to donate building supplies or collaborate with individuals and nonprofits to donate such supplies.

A third reason the company has an edge here is that it can encourage its employees to volunteer labor in this areaemployees who know a thing or two about building and repairing housing.

The good news is that homelessness among veterans has been on the decline, dropping 24 percent (or 17,760) between 2009 and 2013. 

These reductions in veteran homelessness are not evenly distributed across the country, where some communities have seen 40 percent or more in reductions, while others have made slower progress. Nevertheless, the trend is headed in the right direction, and the U.S. government is tracking things closely, with a goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.

Volunteers of America has been working this issue for years, and has received support from the Home Depot Foundation since 2011, to the tune of over $4 million. Nationally, Volunteers of America serves more than 7,700 homeless veterans each year through 35 programs in 15 states.

These programs cover a lot of ground—from giving homeless veterans transitional and permanent supportive housing to helping with the particular barriers that incarcerated veterans face. The group also takes on advocacy and care for the frail elderly.

Home Depot is not the only foundation putting up big funds to solve the problem of homeless veterans. Many foundations give to help homeless veterans, including the Weinberg Foundation, the Murdoch Foundation, the Peabody Foundation, and Citizens Charitable Trust.