One of the focal points of a joint hearing of the Veterans and General Welfare Committees on November 10 was Councilmember Paul Vallone’s resolution calling on the state to pass legislation which would require the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs to conduct a study regarding homeless female veterans, and eventually all homeless veterans, in New York. Homelessness and food insecurity among female veterans has been an increasingly serious issue, particularly considering that many female veterans face challenges when returning to civilian life that are different from males. These challenges can include raising children on their own, or dealing with psychological burdens of military sexual trauma (MST).
The challenges female veterans face put them at greater risk of homelessness and food insecurity than their male counterparts. In fact, according to the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the total number of veterans in the city’s homeless population has declined by 12 percent since 2012, but the number of female homeless veterans actually increased. To make matters worse, the actual number of homeless female veterans may be even greater than what is known, as detailed information on homeless women veterans and data on the total number of homeless women veterans in the general population is not collected by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).