Local veteran helping to end female veteran homelessness 

Posted at 5:35 PM, Nov 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-11 17:46:38-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - Vietnam veteran Willard Smith was only helping homeless male vets until he started doing research and discovered a growing population of homeless women.

Two years ago he leased a home off of Ohio Road in Virginia Beach house hoping to help get those women back on their feet.

“We didn’t realize it was that many homeless female veterans, actually. Not only in Hampton roads but in today’s society until people started doing studies and surveys.”

A 2015 report from HUD noted there were nearly 4,500 homeless female veterans.

This number was down four percent from the previous year.

Smith, the creator of a 12-month program called VetsHouse Incorporated, already had three houses dedicated to the homeless male veteran population.

But in 2014, Smith opened the four bed house strictly for women.

Unfortunately, more women need help than he can supply.

“I would probably say – without exaggerating, probably 35 maybe 40 per year. It’s unfortunate, we aren’t any larger,” Smith said.

Right now there is one vacancy in the home.

When News 3 stopped by earlier today none of the veterans were there.

Smith says they were on taking action to get back on their feet.

“If they aren’t employed, I will assist them finding a job. Once a find a job and become half way self-sufficient then if they have any type issues, I can refer them to the right people,” Smith said.

He said many of the women are dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.

But with the right support they’re able to start anew.

Smith says he hasn't had one woman fail out since he started.