Saratoga County

Female veterans’ homeless shelter now taking clients

The Guardian House shelter for homeless female veterans, the only one of its kind in the Capital Reg

The Guardian House shelter for homeless female veterans, the only one of its kind in the Capital Region, has begun accepting its first clients.

“We’re taking in women even as we speak,” said A.C. “Budd” Mazurek, executive director of the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Co., which operates the shelter.

The 11-bed facility opened Monday, after improvements to the building on Route 50 south of Ballston Spa were completed. The final improvements included installation and inspection of sprinkler and fire alarm systems, Mazurek said.

The shelter was dedicated in June after a three-year effort that raised nearly $400,000, including a $212,000 grant awarded by the Veterans Administration.

Officials involved with veterans’ care say more female veterans are becoming homeless because they have experienced combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, injuries, substance abuse, sexual abuse and other issues, officials said.

“Simply as a reflection of more women seeing combat, we’re seeing more women patients,” Linda Weiss, director of the Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albany, said in June. The Stratton center has a program dedicated to assisting homeless veterans.

The Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company also operates the men’s veterans shelter in Ballston Spa, which has expanded from 10 beds to 12 after some administrative offices were moved to the Guardian House building.

The added beds at the men’s shelter have been consistently full, Muzarek said, and he expects the women’s shelter will now fill up.

“They should come in pretty steadily, once word gets around to the referring agencies,” Mazurek said.

The women’s program, like the men’s, offers temporary shelter, advocacy, case management, employment training and help with getting permanent housing for veterans.

Private fundraising brought $185,000 for purchasing and renovating the Guardian House. Mazurek said there will be an ongoing need for contributions to help pay incidental expenses of the women in the shelter.

The Guardian House is now actively seeking referrals for prospective female veterans from social services agencies, hospitals, rehab centers and treatment programs, as well as self-referrals.

Referrals and information on obtaining application forms are available from Patricia Whitaker-Torres, Guardian House housing coordinator, at 885-0091, ext. 109, or by email at [email protected]

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