WOMEN VETERANS AND HOMELESSNESS
The total Veteran population in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Territories/Foreign, as of Sept. 30, 2015, was 21,680,534. The population of women Veterans numbered 2,035,213. States with the largest number of women Veterans are Texas, California, Florida, Virginia and Georgia. Women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the veteran population. In 2014, women comprise more than 8 percent of the veteran population. This is projected to double in the next 30 years.
While women are encouraged to join the military, many experience gender specific issues while in-service such as sexual trauma, 95% of which is experienced by women. Once they have completed service they face high unemployment and homelessness. In FY 2010, according to the VA, 77% of homeless female veterans were unemployed. One of the key factors for this larger percentage could be the lack of accessible and aﬀordable child care. In fact, according to the recent FY 2010 CHALENG report, the VA and community providers ranked child care as the highest unmet need of homeless veterans from FY 2008- 2010. Additionally, many of the skills that women veterans learn during their military service may not translate back to the civilian workforce or may be skills for a predominately male ﬁeld.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF) – SSVF awards grants to private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives who will provide supportive services to very low income Veterans and their families residing in or transitioning to permanent housing.
SSVF renewal funding, which supports outreach, case management and other flexible assistance to prevent Veteran homelessness or rapidly re-house Veterans who become homeless, went to 286 non-profit organizations and consumer cooperatives in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. A list of grantees is located at www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp .
“SSVF grants empower our local partners to provide short-term-focused interventions that promote housing stability among the most economically vulnerable Veterans and their families,” said Department of Veterans Affairs’ Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “Whether they need rental or child care assistance, transportation vouchers or another type of support, SSVF grantees offer Veterans the mix of services they need to gain housing and stay housed.”
SSFV grantees typically serve Veterans with incomes below 30 percent of the area median income. Grantees must follow the housing first approach, which centers on permanently housing homeless Veterans quickly without preconditions and providing supportive services as needed.
Additional SSVF requirements are that grantees engage in outreach to find and serve Veterans in need, provide Veterans with case management and assist them in obtaining VA and other public benefits.
SSVF served 127,829 participants in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and is on track to serve 135,000 Veterans and their family members by the end of FY 2015. As a result of these and other efforts, Veteran homelessness is down significantly since the launch of the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in 2010. Since 2010, nearly 230,000 Veterans and their family members have been permanently housed, rapidly rehoused or prevented from falling into homelessness by VA’s homelessness programs and targeted housing vouchers provided by HUD.
The funding announced will support SSVF services in FY 2016, which starts October 1, 2015, and ends September 30, 2016. Visit www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp to learn more about the SSVF program
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) partner to provide permanent, supportive housing and treatment services for homeless Veterans. As of September 30, 2013, HUD had allocated more than 58,000 Housing Choice vouchers across the country, which allows Veterans and their families to live in market rate rental housing while VA provides case management services. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the local public housing authority on behalf of the participating Veteran. The Veteran then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program. The case management services facilitate the attainment of the Veteran’s recovery goals. The HUD-VASH Program is for the most vulnerable Veterans, and provides special services for women Veterans, those recently returning from combat zones, and Veterans with disabilities
Center for Women Veterans – Since 1994, the Center for Women Veterans has monitored and coordinated VA benefits, programs and services for women Veterans. The center also advocates for women Veterans and raises awareness about the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect. Women Veterans can also call the Women Veterans hotline—1-885-VA-WOMEN (855-829-6636)—for answers to questions about VA services and resources. Visit http://www.va.gov/womenvet to learn more.