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Homeless Veterans Fastest Growing Segment Is Female Veterans

homeless female

By Debbie Gregory.

When most people picture a veteran, it’s a male. And the same holds true for homeless veterans. But the truth is that the Department of Veterans Affairs has found that female veterans, including those with children, are the fastest-growing share of homeless veterans.

Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness.

Most of these women, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, don’t sleep on the streets or find shelter placements. They prefer to couch-surf with friends and relatives, which more often than not, leaves them left out of the homeless count.

Far from being a well-understood phenomenon, most people would be hard-pressed to even include women veterans in the overall picture of veteran homelessness — or recognize their unique risk factors and survival strategies.

Many homeless women veterans were victims of military sexual trauma and feel resentment towards the military and the VA, and as a result do not identify themselves as being a veteran.

According to VA’s National Center for PTSD, data from VA’s military sexual trauma screening program show that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men respond “yes,” that they experienced sexual trauma or assault while in the military.

Female homeless veterans are nothing like their male veteran counterparts in how and why they experience homelessness. Sadly, women veterans are frequently left out of the picture, intentionally or otherwise. One woman veteran in the series described it as “always being an afterthought,” whenever veterans issues are discussed.

Social health is more important to a woman’s healing process than it is to a man’s. The VA is realizing that and tailoring treatments as necessary.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Innovative Potter’s Lane Apartment Complex Utilizes Shipping Containers to House Veterans

potters lane

By Debbie Gregory.

In March of 2017, just 6 months after breaking ground, 15 homeless veterans moved in to their brand new, unique 480-square-foot living spaces in Orange County, CA.

Potter’s Lane is a $6.7 million project paid for with federal, state and local dollars, donations, and money from American Family Housing, the nonprofit behind the project. It is the first-of-its-kind to use recycled shipping containers to create permanent supportive housing for veterans.

Each of the furnished units are made of three shipping containers pieced together, and each one overlooks a courtyard that includes an oversized American flag, a garden, and picnic tables.

Donna Gallup, the president of American Family Housing, wanted to make sure the complex’s design honored the service of its U.S. military residents.

“All of the units look over the courtyard so that they can watch each other’s backs and develop that community and that sense of belonging,” Gallup said.

“Normally a traditional project would take up to two years to build, and the fact that our homeless veterans are sleeping on the streets right now, I think timing is very important,” she added.

At Potter’s Lane, case managers from the VA and the Illumination Foundation, another Orange County nonprofit that works with the homeless, are around to help residents with whatever assistance they might need.

“This is a model that can be replicated,” said Gallup. “It’s an innovative approach to development because the structures were manufactured off-site while site work was being done here. Then, the units were delivered and assembled on-site to create housing – shortening the time it would normally take to build a project. The units are designed to be very strong, sustainable and energy efficient.”

Proponents of using containers to build affordable housing expect costs to come down as more companies compete in that market.

If you would like to volunteer with any of American Family Housing’s projects or events, email [email protected] or call (714) 897-3221×115.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Homeless 84-year- old Veteran Twins Receive Much Needed Help

twins

By Debbie Gregory.

Born in the Netherlands under Nazi rule, 84-year-old twins Clifford and Gary Koekoek came to the U.S. as they have done most all things in life: together.

The twins served their adoptive country during the Vietnam War. They eventually bought a home that had belonged to their mother. The brothers took out what they thought was a conventional loan to fix the roof on the house, but unfortunately, they fell victim to a predatory lender and lost the house in foreclosure.

The brothers were left to sleep in their car.

They spent a lot of their time just walking. Both logged many hours at the Sacramento Public Library in Orangevale, Gary poring over deed records, trying to find a way to get their house back.

In an act that Gary said makes him proud to be an American citizen, the brothers saw their story spread through local media and by word of mouth, thanks to family friend Aaron Hoemer . Then, it went national.

The brothers have received an outpouring of support, including more than $121,000 through a GoFundMe account that has now closed. A local estate planning attorney has also volunteered to open a trust for the brothers to handle all the money that’s been donated.

Additionally, multiple homeless advocate organizations and Veterans Affairs have reached out to assist them.

“These two gentlemen spent a lot of time out on the street struggling before we were able to make that connection, but we’re glad we were able to make it today,” said Sacramento Steps Forward’s Ben Avey. The nonprofit agency works to end homelessness in the region.

In an interview with Fox news, Clifford said, “It made me proud to be an American citizen, that there are so many good people.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Grand Jury Report on $5 Million Program for Homeless Veterans

homeless vet in la

By Debbie Gregory.

You would think that $5-million would go a long way to end veteran homelessness in Los Angeles. But despite the funding, a program to get homeless veterans off the streets has only helped 268 veterans over an 18 month period, according to a recent Los Angeles County grand jury report.

In Los Angeles, veterans comprise a little over 3% of the general population, but make up about 11% of the homeless population.  Transition from military to civilian life, sometimes complicated by service related disabilities, may make it difficult for veterans to find housing.

Homes for Heroes, a county program funded by the federal government, provides interim shelter to veterans and pays for move-in costs and minor repairs for landlords who agree to rent to ex-service members. But the grand jury’s report expressed concern about Homes for Heroes’ administrative costs. And the report also found that in the 18 months from January 2016 to June 2017, the program helped more property owners (363) than it did veterans.

Phil Ansell, the director of L.A. County’s homeless initiative said the grand jury’s information was out of date, and that further progress has been made, although “more certainly remains to be done,” he said.

While Southern California has made progress over the years, the area continues to lead the nation in veteran homelessness, with 4,800 living on streets and riverbed, according to the report.

Mayor Eric Garcetti had made a pledge to end veteran homelessness a signature of his administration.

Another impediment is that much of the housing that accepts veteran rent vouchers is for men only. This leaves their family members and female veterans to find shelter elsewhere.

However, Los Angeles is making progress in cutting into veteran homelessness, said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a Washington nonprofit.

“It cut unsheltered homelessness 43% and veteran homelessness overall 41% in a year, which is unheard of,” she said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Uber and Lyft Offer Free Rides to Job-Seeking Vets

uber

By Debbie Gregory.

Arch rivals in the ride-sharing space, Uber and Lyft have put their differences aside for a good cause. Both companies have announced that they will offer free rides to homeless veterans trying to get to work opportunities.

This gesture could offer struggling veterans a little help where it’s really needed.

“We have heard time and again that transportation to and from work and job interviews is often a significant hurdle for homeless veterans trying to find work,” Air Force Col. Nicole Malachowski, the executive director of Joining Forces, said in a statement.

While Lyft has yet to offer any specific details on how it’ll be handling the ride program, Uber is promising that over the next year it’ll work with five veterans organizations affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program to provide around 10,000 free rides to jobs, interviews, and other employment events.

Uber estimates it will contribute 10,000 rides at an average ride of $10 to $12 — or $125,000 during the next year — to provide transportation for veterans to jobs, interviews and other employment events, said Kristin Carvell, a company spokesperson.

Uber also has pledged to onboard 50,000 service members, veterans and military spouses as partner drivers on the Uber platform.

Getting the homeless off the streets and into housing has been a major goal for the Department of Veterans Affairs. By using a voucher system that subsidizes most or all of the rent, the VA is seeing a lot of success. Once housing has been secured, the VA then works to provide the veterans with counseling, health care and other benefits.

VA spending on homelessness jumped from about $376 million in 2009 to about $1.5 billion last year, according to estimates by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Promising Statistics on Veteran Homelessness: Military Connection

Military Connection: homeless vets

By Debbie Gregory.

It may be hard for some to understand why, after serving their country so bravely, a good number of veterans come back, only to struggle with basic housing. The homeless veteran population appears to occur after every conflict, from World War II and Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. One contributing factor is an extreme shortage of affordable housing compounded by many military occupations not translating to the civilian workforce. This increases the struggle for those needing specialized healthcare for PTSD, TBI, or mental health counseling.

With that said, statistics are changing. There are indications that there was a decline in the number of homeless veterans in January 2014 (49,933); 33 percent less than the statistics from 2010. The majority of homeless veterans still remain to be male, however, approximately eight percent are female.

It appears that 50 percent of homeless vets are between the ages of 18 and 50, with only 10 percent being younger vets under 31. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 40 percent are African American or Hispanic. This is significant in that ten percent of the entire veteran population is African American and four percent of all veterans are Hispanic.

Type of service also seems to factor in these statistics; approximately 33 percent of homeless veterans were stationed in a war zone. Twice that percentage served for at least three years. Compared to the American public, veterans are twice as likely to succumb to homelessness, and women veterans’ risk is four times greater than their male counterparts.

While strides are being made to reduce these statistics, poverty, difficulty obtaining support specific to their needs, and substandard housing remain the primary reasons that veteran homelessness still occurs. Among this population, some 40,000 individuals receive monthly compensation of some sort, but it’s simply not enough to cover U.S. basic living standards. Even more challenging is housing for those who have special needs, modifications that come at a higher cost. Without adequate support, upwards of two-thirds of homeless veterans have unaddressed substance abuse issues.

It is likely that homeless veterans need approximately six years to improve their situation, where as those who have never served appear to see improved opportunities in about four years.

Many who ask “why” might ask “how” – how can these statistics change? Rather than looking at the situation on a national level, the answer most likely rests with local support. Communities can assess what the needs are in their area, and build local support or coalitions. Perhaps there are already veteran service providers that need more funding or volunteers. It’s important to contact local officials who have a stronger voice in paving the way for improvements, support, and most importantly, hope.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Promising Statistics on Veteran Homelessness: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Paying the Debt We Owe Our Veterans: Military Connection

military connection: veteran hiring

By Debbie Gregory.

VA Launches Community-Based Employment Service for Homeless Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is dedicated to giving Veterans the opportunity to return to healthy, productive lifestyles within their own communities. The VA has announced a new program aimed at helping at-risk Veterans secure stable, long-term employment and housing.

The new program, Homeless Veteran Community Employment Services (HVCES), relies on those who know their communities, and can work with local employers to identify suitable jobs based on a Veteran’s skills and abilities. These Community Employment Coordinators (CECs) will be responsible for connecting homeless and at-risk Veterans to appropriate VA and community-based employment services.

“Securing long-term, stable and fulfilling employment is important for Veterans who are exiting homelessness or are at-risk of becoming homeless,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “We know that finding gainful employment can change the life of a Veteran. This new program is a key component of the overall strategy to prevent and end Veteran homelessness.”

The VA offers a variety of additional services, including health care, to increase the likelihood of on-the-job success.

An important function of what CECs do is the development of relationships with employers who may be able to hire Veterans. They are assisted by the VA, which provides the necessary support services to ensure each Veteran’s transition back into the workforce is successful.

Veterans have a proven track record of dependability, teamwork, and individual problem solving from their military experience.

If you are or know of a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, homeless coordinators are ready to help. Veterans and their families can also call 1-877-4AID-VET to get connected to VA services.

For a list of the CECs in your local area, visit www.va.gov/homeless/cec-contacts.asp.

More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless.

Veterans have served our country well. Employing them and securing homes for them and their families honors their many sacrifices.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Paying the Debt We Owe Our Veterans: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: New Battle of New Orleans: Veteran Homelessness

HomelessVeteran

By Debbie Gregory.

In a January 7th press release, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared that his city has ended homelessness among its Veterans. The statement touted the city, nicknamed “The Big Easy” as the first major city in the nation to end Veteran homelessness.

The mayor, his administration and the claim instantly drew criticism from people both in and outside of New Orleans. Some were quick to point out that both Phoenix and Salt Lake City have already claimed an end to Veteran homelessness in their cities. Other critics were eager to find any and all homeless people in New Orleans to ascertain if any of them were Veterans living on the streets.

But while critics were quick to jump to conclusions, the most important thing to keep in mind is what Mayor Landrieu and his city were able to accomplish.

Last year, First Lady Michelle Obama challenged mayors throughout the U.S. to make a commitment to end homelessness among America’s Veterans by the end of 2015. So far, 312 mayors, six governors, and 71 other county and city officials from across the United States have accepted the first lady’s challenge. Mayor Landrieu was among them.

In early 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted its annual National Point in Time Survey of Homelessness. At that time, the survey identified 193 homeless Veterans combined in the parishes of Orleans and Jefferson. The Landrieu administration coordinated with local nonprofit organizations, homeless service providers, active duty service members, Veterans, and federal, state and local agencies. Their goal was to provide housing for all homeless Veterans. Ultimately, the city and its alliance managed to provide housing for 227 homeless Veterans.

This is truly a remarkable and commendable feat that New Orleans accomplished. This should be celebrated and emulated around the nation. Critics can dig up whatever nay-saying they want, but Landrieu accomplished what Mrs. Obama’s challenge was intended to do; provide a tremendous amount of local support for homeless Veterans.

One thing that both Mayor Landrieu and his critics do agree on, whether the claim is accurate or not, is that combating Veteran homeless is not a battle one simply wins and stops fighting. It will be an ongoing campaign that will take on-going commitment and resources.

It is our hope that elected officials and community leaders all across our country will take up the fight against Veteran homelessness. The men and women who put all of their best efforts into this battle should be proud, and they have the right to brag about their accomplishments.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: New Battle of New Orleans: Veteran Homelessness: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Awards $207 Mil in Grants: By Debbie Gregory

homeless VeteranThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is awarding $207 million to help homeless and at-risk Veterans.

On August 11, 2014, the VA announced that it was awarding a total of $300 million to 301 different community agencies. The agencies receiving the funds are those that can help end homelessness among Veterans as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. On September 30, VA Secretary Robert McDonald announced an additional $207 million will be added to help 70,000 more homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families.

Since the start of the SSVF program in fiscal year 2012, it has served over a hundred thousand Veterans. In 2012 alone, with $20 million awarded to the program, more than 35,000 Veterans and their family members were helped off the streets, or prevented from becoming homeless. In 2013, the program was expanded to $100 million and served 115,000 Veterans and their families.

With the additional $207 million, the VA expects the SSVF program to reach over 185,000 Veterans and family members in 2015. The grants will be distributed among 82 non-profit agencies across the nation, and include “surge” funding for 56 high-need communities.

Under the SSVF program, the VA awards grants to private non-profit organizations and groups that provide services to very low-income Veteran families. The organizations provide a range of services that promote housing stability among Veteran families who make less than 50% of the median income for the area that they live in.

Under the terms of the SSVF grants, providers offer low-income Veterans and their family members outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and assistance in receiving other public benefits.  Community-based groups can also offer temporary financial assistance for rent payments, utility payments, security deposits and moving costs.

Through the homeless Veterans initiative, the VA has allotted over $1 billion in 2014 to fortify programs that prevent and end homelessness among military Veterans. The VA also provides an array of services to homeless and at-risk Veterans, including housing, job training, education, and health care.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to using evidence based approaches such as SSVF to prevent homelessness and produce successful outcomes for Veterans and their families,” Sec. McDonald said. “This is a program that works, because it allows VA staff and local homeless service providers to work together to address the unique challenges that make it difficult for some Veterans and their families to remain stably housed.”

For more information about homeless programs through the VA please visit www.va.gov/homeless.

Details about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program are online at www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: VA Awards $207 Mil in Grants: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veteran Homelessness Down: By Debbie Gregory

Veterans helping veteransThe U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as the U.S. Inter-agency Council on Homelessness (USICH) recently issued a new national estimate of Veteran homelessness. Using data collected during the annual Point-in-Time Count, conducted in January, 2014, revealed that there were 49,933 homeless Veterans in America. This year’s number shows a 33% decline since 2010, when there were 74,770 Veterans reportedly living on the streets.

The VA, HUD, and USICH, as well as other local partners, have used evidenced-based practices like Housing First and federal resources such as HUD-VASH (the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program) to find stable housing for Homeless Veterans. Since 2008, the HUD-VASH program has assisted 74,019 homeless Veterans, and Veteran families who were in danger of becoming homeless.

The federal government has provided significant new resources to help communities pursue the goal of ending homelessness among Veterans. Strategically targeting these resources is resulting in communities making significant progress towards ending Veteran homelessness.

The federal government has created a goal to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. There are several policies and programs that are currently geared towards reaching the goal.

Using a Housing First approach and eliminating unnecessary prerequisites, the federal government has made progress in removing barriers and helping Veterans obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible. The government’s programs have found success through prioritizing the most vulnerable Veterans, especially Veterans experiencing chronic homelessness, for permanent supportive housing opportunities.

The utilization of rehousing interventions, including those made possible through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, has aided Veterans who need short-term assistance to reintegrate back into our communities.

Government programs have also found success by increasing early detection efforts, and providing Veterans with greater access to preventive services. They have also been leveraging other housing resources that can help Veterans who are ineligible for some of the VA’s programs get into stable housing.

By closely monitoring their progress, and remaining committed to their goal, it is reasonable to believe that Veteran Homelessness could be eradicated in 2015. But it can only happen through continued government efforts and the support of the American people.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veteran Homelessness Down: By Debbie Gregory