Our Homeless Vets

by Community Change | February 8, 2012 10:14 am

A new report (.pdf) out this week from the Government Accountability office examines the number of homeless female veterans, and the numbers are astounding:

“Limited VA data show the number of women veterans it has identified as homeless more than doubled, from 1,380 in fiscal year 2006 to 3,328 in fiscal year 2010. Although these data are not generalizable to the overall population of homeless women veterans, we identified some characteristics of these women. For example, almost two-thirds were between 40 and 59 years old and over one-third had disabilities. In addition, many of these women resided with their minor children.”

While overall rates of veteran homelessness are discouraging enough, and veterans do face challenging reintegration into society no matter their gender, these numbers are particularly devastating because they show a huge gap between the growth of male and female service members.

The military is known for recruiting in low-income areas and areas with concentrated populations of people of color—and the rate of homelessness for the veteran community as a whole is huge. But now we’re seeing another marginalized group facing particular challenges.

Enlisted members of the armed forces don’t make very much money, and while their housing is provided, they aren’t able to save much. Upon return, they face difficulty finding a place to live, and figuring out how their skills are applicable outside of the military.  The President mentioned allocating funding to the National Housing Trust Fund during his State of the Union, but as of now the resources just aren’t there.

With the military targeting Black people (and a growing number of Latinos), the situation is bound to become a self-perpetuating cycle. And now we’ll see women coming out of the armed forces facing similar challenges.

To see the work our sister organization is doing to provide housing to all Americans, and specifically veterans, click here.

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