Since 2015, the number of Arizona homeless veterans, though declining, has remained significant. As of 2016, almost 400 veterans are homeless in Arizona, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Of course the majority of the population of veterans are male … but there is definitely a big piece of female vets,”Tempe vice mayor and Army veteran Robin Arredondo-Savage said.
She also said that many of these females homeless veterans have children.
As an ASU alumna and veteran, Arredondo-Savage has been a strong advocate in pushing for a housing solution for veterans in Tempe.
“One of the things we found was that there was nothing in the state of Arizona that really serves veterans that have children and that is affordable,” Arredondo-Savage said.
The project, located next to the new ASU Greek Village on Eighth Street in Tempe, is one of the first of its kind in Arizona. The new apartment complex, called "Valor on Eighth," is for veterans and their families only. It is fully equipped with a day care, after-school tutoring, the Maricopa County Head Start program and a playground donated by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The project is in partnership with Save the Family, an organization that offers services to homeless families, which will provide on-site family, career and financial services.
"For the last five years, Save the Family has been operating a grant called Supportive Services to Veteran Families and the focus of that grant is primarily female veterans although we serve some male, but our first target is female," said Save the Family CEO Jacki Taylor.
"We also know, statistically, that female veterans are more likely to fall into homelessness than male veterans," Taylor said.
Arredondo-Savage encourages those in need to keep applying as they hope to fill all 45 units by the end of this year.
“So it started with a thought and an idea, and then it got some momentum and we got excited and the council got on board and they were really excited about it too, and it’s just been a really positive thing,” Arredondo-Savage said.
Returning from deployment is difficult, she said.
“It was amazing because the world kept moving, and you’re not really used to that and everyone continues without you," Arredondo-Savage said.
Andrew Petrie, a secondary education senior, is the president of the Student Veterans Association at ASU. He served in the Marine Corps for four years.
“When I got out, like most veterans do, you want to get back into the swing of things,” Petrie said.
He got involved in the Student Veterans Association so that he could give back to the community and help rebuild fellow veterans’ lives as the organization helped him do.
The Student Veterans Association, as well as many other organizations, is involved with helping local underprivileged veterans. Petrie said that they advocate for veterans at the student government level but also in the City of Tempe. SVA also hosts job fairs focused on helping at-risk or homeless veterans.
Once Arredondo-Savage was elected to Tempe City Council in 2010, she thought that they could “up their game” when it came to veterans. She wanted to figure out something for homeless veterans that is affordable and family-friendly.
“We are hoping to create the best practice when it comes to collaboration, and a focus, and a positive effort to help fill a gap and a need that isn’t being filled currently,” she said.
Valor on Eighth opens this December.
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