It's wonderful to see the spirit of giving during November and December, and so many families are being helped. Yet I can't stop thinking about all of the female veterans in the United States who are homeless or victims of domestic violence. Women have come home from the service with PTSD, no limbs, divorced, abused and more. Then they have to fight like mad to get disability, because they have no funds to live on. They're afraid, lonely and frustrated.
Despite being a veteran for years, I had absolutely no idea until 2015 of what goes on behind the scenes with women who have no place to call home.
In the state of North Carolina, Volunteers of America is one of the most used agencies for veterans who are homeless, and they will pay rent, which is fantastic. For those who are unfortunate enough to not have found a job at the end of 9 months, those women are then unceremoniously kicked out of the program with less than 30 days notice. Never mind that in addition to having no income, she is now once again on the road to homelessness, told to seek community resources. Incredibly, this woman never hears from Volunteers of America again. This happens with Family Endeavors as well! For women who may have an illness, addictions, loss of income, or simply chronically homeless, there is a government program called HUD-VASH. This program pays rent forever unless the veteran's circumstances change. It sounds simple, but I assure you, it's not. Single women are authorized to receive rent of $700 per month with no more than 2 bedrooms. If they are already living in a home that happens to have more than 2 bedrooms, that veteran must vacate the premises and find a new place. WTF! Now the landlord is pissed off because his rent isn't being paid, and the tenant is in danger of eviction through no fault of her own. He has no desire to wait while she finds a new home. She has a certain amount of time to find a new place and to have it inspected, yet no new homes are available.
Even worse, most landlords don't accept housing vouchers for veterans despite receiving guaranteed monthly payment. Before we know it, this woman is living out of her car, in a roach-ridden shelter or on a relative's couch - again. I don't get how these processes are helping to end homelessness. How can we have such positive resources at the beginning that end so horribly for these women?
It's almost 2017, and we may assume that everyone has access to various forms of communication to get help. The reality is that many women may not have computer access, or can't use one at home for fear of being discovered by an abusive spouse. They're embarrassed to visit the library because they haven't showered in days, or don't have laptops or android phones. There is a tremendous amount of research needed to get assistance that is totally unbelievable! If these women are able to use Internet or phones for brief periods, this is what happens:
* Websites that are broken
* Unreturned telephone calls or emails
* Passing the buck to someone else
* Closed Programs
* Frequent Lack of Communication
How dare anyone state that the homelessness rate is decreasing. These women are on the street and so frustrated, that no one hears from them to get an accurate picture of what's really going on. They don't have Christmas trees or gifts, their families are ready for them to leave that couch, and they are living in their cars at night hoping that no one will bother them while trying to sleep in the cold.
Someone you know is crying silently, praying for a miracle. A woman at work with is ashamed to tell you that she can't find a place to live. Their credit is ruined, and they owe everyone money. Surely there are landlords out there who have homes to rent, giving these women the chance they deserve to be safe and secure.There is a success story waiting to be told that can help the next group of women. These women served their country and shouldn't have to live like this.
What the world needs now is more love, and love and love.
Volunteers of America 919-831-9042 Raleigh
252-985-0230 Rocky Mount
Housing/Job Assistance: https://www.hudexchange.info/housing-and-homeless-assistance/
www.nchousingsearch.org, www.passagehome.org, nchfa.com, http://www.nchousing.org/
Durham VAMC/HUD-Vash 919-286-0411, ext 7065
Sometimes they'll support with funds, but it's difficult to reach these people, and I can't say they are 100% reliable. But it may be worth it to check with the DAV (Disabled Veterans) in various areas. They may have some funding to help with housing or utilities.
Benita Koeman - Founder - Fantastic Advocate!
National Home Military & Veteran Family Hotline 1-800-313-4200
www.nchv.org - upper management doesn't respond by phone or email (National Colation for Homeless Veterans)