DENVER (KDVR) — Cities and counties around the metro area are performing the annual Point in Time Count, tallying and talking to those suffering homelessness in the area.

The U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary came to Denver to participate in the count on Tuesday.

Vet homelessness reduction above US average

In a one-on-one interview with FOX31, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said he’s impressed by the progress Colorado is making in veteran homeless reduction.

Last week, the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative released its third annual State of Homelessness report. The report highlights that the region has seen a 31% reduction in veteran homelessness over the past two years, nearly three times the national average of an 11%.

“Housing first, that’s our strategy,” McDonough said. “Let’s get that veteran under a roof and make sure that we then can be in a position to address the issues that may have led to homelessness in the first instance.”

Housing vets in the Denver rental market

FOX31 asked how the VA and community partners are finding adequate housing with the latest costs and availability issues impacting the metro area.

“We use vouchers that are developed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” McDonough said. “Then, we’re reaching out not just to our vets, but we’re reaching out to our partners and to landlords to make sure that they know that when they make a deal with us to house veterans, this has the full backing of Uncle Sam. And not only that, that they’re doing the right thing by those vets.”

If you are a veteran or know a veteran who is experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness, McDonough and the VA ask you to call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID-VET (877-424-3838).