Northeast Florida Women Veterans launches shelter for homeless women veterans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new project is making sure women veterans and their children have a place to rest their heads.

The 4-bedroom, 3,000 square foot house in Jacksonville Beach will be a new temporary home for up to eight women veterans and their children.

According to Board President Patty Wolfe, there will be three options of housing at the shelter. Those are:

  • Emergency shelter - those who need a place to stay for a few nights
  • Transitional waiting - those who are waiting on longer term housing that has already been set up, waiting on a house to open, or waiting for a job to start.
  • Longer term - People who live in the shelter approximately 90 days, where they will provide the full range of services that Northeast Florida Women Veterans provides.

One of the goals of this project is that they will be able to give women veterans more resources than a typical homeless shelter.

“This is a dream come true for women veterans because even though there are homeless shelters here in Jacksonville, and they do a wonderful job with women and are available to women veterans, they do not provide the range of services that a woman veteran who has left the military with some sort of trauma,” Wolfe said. “Case management takes a holistic view of the woman veteran provides them not just shelter, but case management and counseling and job help - all in one place. So this is an extremely important facility for our women veterans.”

Deloris Quaranta the President and CEO of Northeast Florida Women Veterans is excited for the project to launch.

“When your self-esteem is down, you have no place to go. You know, you feel hopeless,” Quaranta said. “Hopefully when they come in here, they know that they have not only have a safe space, but it’s a place where people care and are willing to walk them through their journey to help them get back on their feet.”

According to the Census Bureau, as of 2019 there were 130,800 women veterans in Florida. That is 9.3 percent of all veterans in Florida. However, one in three women veterans say they have been sexually assaulted and women veterans are twice more likely to die by suicide than non-Veteran women, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. However the number of homeless women veterans isn’t really known due to them being scared to disclose that information.

“A lot of times we don’t know that they’re homeless or many of them sleep in their cars so they don’t check in and be validated with the VA or change in homelessness. So people may not even know that they’re homeless or they do a lot of sofa surfing and a lot of times they’re in situations that are not healthy,” Quaranta said. “But, you know, when you’re homeless and you carrying children with you, sometimes there’s a fear that someone may try to take your children away because you have no place to live. And so they don’t let folks know that they have no place to go.”

The project is a partnership with St. Andrews Lutheran Church By The Sea, which is donating use of the house, as well as other Jacksonville area organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and K9s for Warriors who have donated new items for use in the house.

The house is expected to open to veterans starting May 1.

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Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a General Assignment Reporter for 104.5 WOKV.