A bill that would address the alarming trend of homeless veterans has been amended twice and is seeing movement in the Assembly.
The bill (S.02575-b/A.00434-b) is sponsored by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, D-Fresh Meadows, and Sen. Kevin Parker, D-Flatbush.
If passed, the legislation would require that the state conduct a study to determine how many veterans are living on the streets and in shelters across New York state.
A specific goal of the study is to determine the number of female veterans and their children who are homeless or are in need of social services. The study would also try to determine how many veterans were the victims of sexual trauma while in the military.
Once the study is completed a written report will be delivered to the governor and the legislature.
A 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that 57,849 veterans are homeless on any given night. This number is likely to increase given the number of veterans who are struggling with excessive economic burdens, according to the bill memo.
Veterans, especially those with disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, are more likely to become homeless. Often a higher percentage of veterans returning from the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate these characteristics, say Rozic and Parker.
In 2009, homeless veterans were mostly male and just 4 percent were female. Today however, the United States Government Accountability Office reports that women veterans identified as homeless by the VA increased more than 140 percent, from 1,350 in fiscal year 2006 to 3,328 in fiscal year 2010.
The bill sponsors cite data that shows women veterans are four times more likely than their male counterparts to end up homeless. Parker and Rozic are concerned that homeless female veterans who are single mothers are having a tough time finding adequate shelter, daycare services and finding gainful employment.
The study mandated under their legislation would gather information on the number of homeless veterans in New York and how many of them have children. Ultimately, they hope the outcome from this study would produce recommendations and solutions to combat the growing problems among the men and women who served in the armed forces.
The bill has been introduced every session since 2013 and has passed the Assembly twice. It currently resides in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee.