A new program will provide lodging and support services
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 28, 2012
The United States Veterans Initiative of Hawaii has launched its first program specifically designed to help homeless female veterans.
According to U.S. VETS-Hawaii, women accounted for about 5 percent of the estimated 1,100 veterans who experienced homelessness in the state last year.
"Our women veterans are an underserved population, partly due to not having a facility and services specifically targeted to reach them," said Darryl Vincent, chief operating officer of U.S. VETS-Hawaii. "This much-needed project will provide us an opportunity to address the needs of the women who served our community so unselfishly."
U.S. VETS-Hawaii will lease 10 rooms, for a total of 20 beds, at the YWCA of Oahu's all-female Fernhurst residence in Makiki, Vincent said.
The first joint outreach effort by the two organizations will take place Tuesday during the 2012 Veterans Stand Down on Oahu, an event for homeless veterans and their families, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park near McCoy Pavilion.
Women participating in the program will have access to comprehensive clinical case management, workforce readiness services, VA services and YWCA programs such as Dress for Success-Honolulu, according to a U.S. VETS-Hawaii news release. The program will also address issues that are unique to female veterans, such as military sexual trauma.
"Fernhurst has a long history of offering safe transitional housing here in Honolulu to women from all walks of life," Kimberly Miyazawa, CEO of YWCA Oahu, said in a news release. "Our setup is ideal for women veterans as this collaboration will directly address their unmet needs. We are ready to welcome them."
The Hawaii initiative is the second U.S. VETS-affiliated program in the nation specifically to help female veterans, Vincent said. The other is in Long Beach, Calif.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently approved $28.4 million in grants to fund 38 projects in 25 states to provide transitional housing to homeless veterans, and the Hawaii female veterans initiative is one of those projects.
Vincent said U.S. VETS-Hawaii's grant is a per-diem grant that will pay for each night a bed is occupied. If all 20 beds are occupied 365 days a year, the grant could total up to $288,000 a year, he explained, adding that U.S. VETS-Hawaii will use the money to lease the rooms, provide the women with three meals a day and offer them the same supportive services and programs that go on in the organization's facility at Barbers Point.
Of the 98 beds available for homeless veterans at the U.S. VETS Barbers Point location, Vincent said only four are currently occupied by women, but he believes interest will grow now that a program specifically tailored to helping women is being offered.
"We've never had more than 20 in our program, but we know that there's a lot of women out there," he said. "It just takes education … outreach and focus."
To find out more about the program, visit usvetsinc.org, ywcaoahu.org or call U.S. VETS at 347-4267.