Is Your State Ready to Accommodate Women Veterans Who Are Homeless?

Most States Appear to Lack Capacity — or May Be Unaware of Growing Need

Women veterans who become homeless with or without children can experience finding resources as a giant “maze.” Here, a provision “map out of homelessness” is sketched by illustrator Kate Hayward, with input from women veterans and advocates.

When women veterans become homeless — how ready is your state to meet the need?

Sure, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the agency thought of as primarily responsible to help vets with housing when they become homeless, but VA works through community providers as well, often on a reimbursement basis. So first your community has to have facilities available to house women veterans — who frequently have different needs than their male veteran counterparts. Because of the likelihood of trauma histories from military sexual trauma, and/or their status as single mothers with dependent children, women veterans are very unlikely to want to sleep outside, stay in shelters, or stay in co-ed facilities.

The top five states for women veterans, currently, with figures from the Grant and Per Diem program. This is a snippet so be sure to look at the interactive data visualization on the Web for more detail. The link to the Tableau map is here.
The contrast between who America pictures a “homeless veteran” looks like, and who is the fastest-growing demographic in veteran homelessness today.
Grant and Per Diem programs per state that serve women. Figures from December, 2011 report from the Government Accounting Office.
Grant and Per Diem programs per state that serve women and children. Figures from December, 2011 report from the Government Accounting Office.
Grant and Per Diem programs’ maximum beds for women per state. Figures from December, 2011 report from the Government Accounting Office.
L to R: Beds in Grant and Per Diem programs per state that serve women with physical disabilities and with mental disabilities (their terminology). Figures from December, 2011 report from the Government Accounting Office.
Grant and Per Diem programs’ maximum beds per women expressed as a percentage of the low end of the range of women veterans who are likely to be homeless in that state currently. GDP figures from December, 2011 report from the Government Accounting Office. Homelessness estimate uses VA calculations on VetPop 2017 figures for women veterans per state. You can read more about this estimate here.
Using the estimate in the previous infographic, here’s a look at the states that can potentially accommodate at least 20 percent of the women veterans who are likely to be homeless in that state right now (using the low end of a range of estimates).
Using the estimate in a previous infographic, here’s a look at how the “top five” states for women veterans by population can potentially accommodate at least 20 percent of the women veterans who are likely to be homeless right now (using the low end of a range of estimates).
A snippet of a data visualization on the Web that shows various Grant and Per Diem figures compared to the number of women veterans in that state.

Policy implications

  • Be thinking now about what policy changes need to be made to better accommodate women veterans who become homeless, with or without their children.
  • Is there a baseline level of accommodation through housing that women veterans should be able to access, irrespective of what state they’re in?
  • How does your state need to step up to meet this need? How about nonprofits and local communities?
  • Is more education needed so that the average person will be aware that female veteran homelessness is an issue?
  • Or should the emphasis be on providing more responsive housing so that women veterans and/or their children can be accommodated during times of need?
  • If your state is making an effort to house veterans and/or “eradicate veteran homelessness,” can you expand the definition to see how that affects women veterans as well?
  • Can you tie percentage of accommodations available to women veterans when they’re homeless, not just to male veterans — maybe according to the percentage they are of veterans in the state? So a state where women veterans make up 10 percent of the veteran population would have a minimum of 10 percent of the accommodations geared to women veterans.
  • Can someone create a public service campaign that raises the profile of women veterans generally as a growing percentage of the veteran population — and by so doing increase awareness of multiple issues that affect women veterans as their own population, not just homelessness but homelessness too might benefit from that approach.
  • Who in your community, nonprofit arena or legislature needs to become more aware of women veterans as a unique population when it comes to homelessness?
  • When Hollywood and the media tell veterans’ stories — can you make sure they give weight to women veterans’ experiences too? In homelessness, as with other dimensions of the female veteran experience, they deserve a voice as well.
  • And of course, feel free to add your own questions to this list.

Focused on using data as a tool in research & policy decisions. IWMF grantee. NASW-TX and Tableau Public award winner. UTSA, Harvard honors grad. Ph.D. student.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store