B.L.A.S.T Foundation

It is estimated that there are currently 55,000 homeless women Veterans in the United States on any given day. For the sacrifices they and their families have made, this is an unacceptable state for any of them to be in. BLAST Foundation believes in paying women Veterans & their families with the proper respects due to them for the service they have provided to our country. We also works with the Veteran in establishing her plan towards independence. We were established to identify and meet the unique needs of homeless women Veterans.

On December 23, 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported "More than 60 percent of surveyed Grant Per Diem (GPD) programs that serve homeless women veterans did not house children, and most programs that did house children had restrictions on the ages or numbers of children. In our survey, GPD providers cited lack of housing for women with children as a significant barrier to accessing veteran housing. In addition, several noted there were financial disincentives for providers, as VA does not have the statutory authority to reimburse them for costs of housing veterans’ children. Limited housing for women and their children puts these families at risk of remaining homeless".

"A recent report from the VA inspector general examining veteran housing that receive VA grants found bedrooms and bathrooms without locks, poorly lit hallways and women housed in facilities approved for men only. Nearly a third of the 26 facilities reviewed didn't have adequate safety precautions. One woman veteran and her 18-month-old son were placed in the same facility as a male veteran who was a registered sex offender." - AP

The needs of homeless female Veterans are immediate. They need your support today!

Factors contributing to homelessness

  • Unemployment
  • Ineligibility for or lack of Veteran’s benefits
  • Legal Trouble
  • Military Sexual Trauma
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Disabilities
  • Divorce/Separation
  • Domestic Violence
  • Lack of family or social support network 
  • Substance Abuse

According to a report released in 2011 on Homeless Women Veterans by the GAO

HUD collects data on homeless women and on homeless veterans, but does not collect detailed information on homeless women veterans. Neither VA nor HUD collect data on the total number of homeless women veterans in the general population. Further, they lack data on the characteristics and needs of these women on a national, state, and local level. Absent more complete data, VA does not have the information needed to plan services effectively, allocate grants to providers, and track progress toward its overall goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.

Homeless women veterans they talked to cited safety concerns about GPD housing, and 9 of the 142 GPD programs they surveyed indicated that there had been reported incidents of sexual harassment or assault on women residents in the past 5 years.

While VA is taking steps—such as launching an outreach campaign—to end homelessness among all veterans, it does not have sufficient data about the population and needs of women veterans to plan effectively for increases in their numbers as service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Further, without improved services, women—including those with children and those who have experienced military sexual trauma—remain at risk of homelessness and experiencing further abuse.

According to a study conducted in 2009 on Veteran Homelessness by HUD and the VA

*Women Veterans are more likely to be homeless than their male counterparts.
*Women Veterans are also 4 times more likely to be homeless when compared to female non-veterans in the U.S. and female non-veterans in the poverty population.
 When serving in the military, home is where you are stationed. When transitioning to life as a civilian, finding a place to call home can be trying for some veterans. Surprisingly women veterans housing is often more difficult than is to be expected.

Civilian life can be more challenging for women than for their male equivalents. Some have children to raise as single parents and some are dealing with PTSD and military sexual trauma. This can put women vets at a higher risk of becoming homeless.

According to the Department of Labor, Women's Bureau

A common theme in listening sessions was the perception that existing programs/services for veterans favor men. Participants believed that many seemingly gender-neutral programs failed to ensure equality in the level and types of assistance provided to both men and women. The top priorities of the women veterans were achieving independence, finding permanent housing, obtaining education/training and employment, meeting their financial obligations, as well as fulfilling their parental responsibilities. They sought resources and programs to facilitate achieving these goals.

The women Veterans expressed a desire for sex-segregated residential centers staffed by qualified individuals who are sensitive to the female veteran culture. Women, especially those with a history of MST and domestic violence, report feeling more secure and comfortable in a female-only environment. Single-sex housing and treatment arrangements may facilitate recovery for women. Locating centers in safer residential areas, away from drug dealers and violence, is also important.

The Invisible Homeless: Female Veterans

There are numerous reasons why homeless female veterans are not properly represented in assistance or reporting efforts, for that matter:

1.   A large percentage of female veterans facing homelessness find ways to live with family or friends, “couch surfing” for extended periods of time.

2.   Many feel unsafe sleeping on the streets or even in shelters.

3.   Many homeless facilities focus on the larger population of male homeless veterans, who also happen to be more likely to reach out and utilize VA services than their female counterparts.

4.   Many female veterans with children are worried that by accessing services or asking for help against homelessness, their children will be removed from their care.

5.   Others learn that many shelters have limits on the number of children that can accompany their mother.

In a recent response to the VA and HUD report, the organization, voiced all of these concerns, as well as noted issues with how the system counts “sheltered” veterans. For example, the VA counts the sheltered veterans primarily using its Homelessness Screening Clinical Reminder (HSCR), surveying veterans participating in substance abuse and mental health clinics since these have historically have been higher risks for housing instability. However, 82% of women veterans do not use the VA for health care services (as reported by Disabled American Veterans), so the majority of female veterans were completely left out of the screens. Additionally, HUD’s “Point-in-Time” (PIT) estimate counts only those homeless living on the streets on one specific night.

Being unemployed – a major factor contributing to homelessness for both genders – affects more than 23,000 female veterans. While reports state that only 4,338 female veterans were homeless in 2015, that leaves more than 18,600 unaccounted for with no income. Many of these women are, in fact, homeless, but don’t meet the current HUD definition for the PIT Count.

Although numerous organizations are working diligently to reach out to homeless veterans of both genders, the unique needs of female homeless veterans are just now beginning to be addressed. While female veterans face many of the same combat-related dangers and stressors of male veterans – especially now as all military occupations are open to females in all branches – they are also disproportionately more likely to experience military sexual trauma (MST), from both the enemy or even fellow service members Additionally, domestic violence, disability and health/mental-health disorders — such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress — are characteristics associated with homeless female veterans.

Veteran service organizations tasked with reducing homelessness are scrambling to adjust their approach for female veterans. The Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) was recently featured in The Washington Post for its proactive efforts to tailor services for female veterans. The MCVET facility offers 17 single-room residences for women and offers a wide range of services, including access to case managers and off-site specialists, clinicians and mental-health professionals. Residents are able to attend weekly women’s group meetings, hosted by a case manager, where they can talk about their concerns. However, MCVET executives admit more needs to be done to provide help for female veterans who are single mothers or who have their children with them. These are often the ones the least likely to reach out for help in fear that their children may be taken away.

Additionally, the Associated Press recently reported that many existing homeless facilities are less than attractive to female veterans and some can be downright dangerous, with bathroom doors that don’t lock, poorly lit hallways and even the occasional registered sex offender housed in the same facility. By missing out on the female veterans that are technically homeless but are not on the streets or in shelters, groups and the government are missing out on a realistic picture of veteran homelessness and what needs to be done to address it.

BLAST Foundation will host regular fundraisers and events to raise awareness and funds to assist female veterans & their families vulnerable to homelessness. Its transitional housing program provides on-site case management, childcare subsidy/assistance, clothing, employment support, food, transitional housing, transportation and more services.