The men and women who serve in our armed forces are the heroes of our community. No veteran should ever have to be without a home and a warm place to sleep. That's why I'm proud to have announced today that the City of Long Beach will end veteran homelessness before the close of 2015.
One of my first acts as Mayor was to join the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, which was initiated by President Obama. I've had the opportunity to meet with Veterans' Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who shared with me the strategies that helped New Orleans become the nation's first city to end veteran homelessness. When we achieve our goal for Long Beach later this year, we will be one of only a few cities to have met the President's challenge.
Long Beach has worked hard to find housing for everyone who needs it, and over the last several years we've made incredible progress. Thanks to our Health Department and our partners in the community, including the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, the United States Veterans Initiative, and Mental Health America, as well as countless individuals and organizations who volunteer to help neighbors in need, we have decreased homelessness by nearly 20% in the past 4 years, and decreased veteran homelessness by 70%.
I want to thank all those people and organizations for their generous contributions of time and energy.
Poverty and homelessness are complex, difficult problems, and we will be continuing to combat them with all the resources at our disposal for years to come. We are taking a great step with our commitment to ensure that all veterans have housing this year, and I know that with help from the community, we will achieve this goal.