The Home of the Brave Foundation, which operates a homeless veteran’s shelter for men on Sharp’s Road in Milford, purchased a home during December for a proposed female homeless shelter. This will be the first female veteran’s shelter in Delaware, a service that is becoming increasingly necessary in the area. The home, located at 6233 Griffith Lake Drive, was partially purchased with a grant from the Longwood Foundation.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 23 percent of all homeless are veterans and four percent of those are female. Surveys conducted by the organization indicate that female veterans are more likely to have children, suffer from psychiatric illness and more likely to be unemployed than male veterans. In fact, according to statistics from the Veteran’s Administration, young female veterans, aged 17 to 24, are 50 percent more likely to be unemployed than non-veteran women of the same age.
In addition, female veterans are more likely to be divorced, with 7 percent of female veterans aged 17 to 24 reporting a divorce in a 2010 study conducted by the VA. Less than one percent of non-veteran women of the same age report being divorced. To compound the problem, 30 percent of female veterans, ages 17 to 24, have children, compared to 15 percent of non-veterans. Unemployment, divorce and responsibility for children contribute to the potential for homelessness among women. One report from the VA showed that female homeless veterans in shelters increased 19 percent and 48 percent in transitional housing between 2009 and 2010.
The Home of the Brave shelter for homeless female veterans will offer similar services as the men’s shelter, according to Jessica Finan, Executive Director.
“We intend to provide medical and mental health services through the VA, case management, job development, educational opportunities, personal budget development, assistance with VA benefits, transportation for health care and employment interviews, as well as links to community resources,” Finan stated. In addition to the services provided while the veteran is a resident, Home of the Brave also provides household items when the veteran transitions out of the shelter.
During a visit by Senator Chris Coons in September, Linda Boone, President of the Board of Directors, explained that there are very few shelters for women and children in general throughout the state of Delaware and none available that focus specifically on the needs, special circumstances or problems faced by veterans. In addition, there is little or no money from the Veteran’s Administration to address the female homeless veteran problem in the state, according to Boone.
The Home of the Brave hopes to open the new shelter in the spring of 2013. They are currently assessing the property for repairs and upgrades, which will require additional funding. They are currently seeking grants and donations to offset the cost of the repairs and the purchase price of the home not covered by the Longwood grant.
Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that the grant came from the DuPont Foundation. The correct name of the foundation is the Longwood Foundation. We regret the error.