Tampa, FL – The two-story, century old brick building sits unassumingly in Ybor City, with no outward signs of the lives being changed within. A decade ago, Athena House, the first housing program for female Veterans in the nation, opened its doors to homeless women Veterans in that East Tampa building.
Now, ten years later, Athena House has brought structure back into the lives of hundreds of female Veterans who had been found living on the street following their service to our country. Many of these women had been caught in a cycle of drug or alcohol abuse or even domestic violence when they arrived. Those things are not a barrier though for Tampa Crossroads, the owner of Athena House.
“We have a housing first model,” says Tampa Crossroads CEO Sara Romeo. “We get our women stabilized first with a safe place to stay, and then we address the outlying issues that caused their homelessness.” The team at Athena House works tirelessly to help these women achieve their housing goals, live independently, overcome substance abuse, address physical & mental health conditions and ultimately transition into permanent and stable housing.
But female homeless Veterans aren’t always easy to find. Unlike homeless men, women tend to stay ‘hidden’, that is staying with family members or friends, using shelters and transitional housing or sleeping in their vehicles. Women are inclined to exhaust all avenues before they will actually live on the streets due to safety and hygiene concerns.
According to Athena House Program Director Andrea Taylor-Machin, “Athena House may be in Tampa, but we welcome homeless female Veterans from all over the state of Florida. From Miami to Jacksonville, we want to bring these deserving women to Athena House to begin the process of healing and restoring their lives. We need to find them and get them here.”
Athena House is home for up to 16 women Veterans at a time. If you know a homeless female Veteran in the state of Florida, Tampa Crossroads can help! Contact Tampa Crossroads, www.tampacrossroads.com, 813-238-8557 x302.
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