D.C.

Veteran turns rundown homes into houses for homeless female veterans

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It doesn’t look like much now – mostly dust, a few screws and a paint spattered railing. But soon, this six-bedroom house in Northeast could be home to up to six female veterans and their families. Another house next door will house 13 women and their children.

“They have to be in a safe community setting, supporting setting, and they’re not around right now,” says Cecil Byrd of the National Association of Concerned Veterans.

Byrd is leading an effort to turn two rundown homes in Northeast into transitional housing for 19 female veterans.

“Our goal is to have this one be the first one for us, then we’ll try to replicate it and spin it off as many times as we can over the next couple of years,” Byrd says.

It’s a growing need without an obvious solution. A 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office says homeless among female veterans doubled between 2006 and 2010. The $65,000 project aims to help at least a few of those women get back on their feet.

“You get excited about the small things,” says David Walker, the President and CEO of Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. “It's the small things in life that really matter.” Walker’s non-profit kicked in roughly $17,000 to help the project start.

“There's no better feeling than to see a project like this come to fruition,” he says.

The women moving in will pay just $500 per month to live here. Both Byrd and Walker admit it will help only a few veterans, but say even a little help means a lot to those who need it.

“It’s a big deal to the veterans moving in here,” Walker says.

He and Byrd hope have all families moved in by Veteran’s Day in November.

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