An Auburn Democrat is seeking a one-time $150,000 state allocation to help the Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope begin providing housing for female veterans and their children at the Augusta property it has been working on for months.

State Rep. Bettyann Sheats told colleagues this week that Maine has “done a wonderful job caring for our servicemen and women and our veterans, with one exception: female veteran homelessness.”

“Women, especially women with children, are less likely to be homeless in the traditional sense of living outside on the street or using a homeless shelter,” she said.

“They are more likely to couch surf between friends and family, live in their car, or stay in a bad relationship, one that could be harmful to themselves and their children because they don’t know where else to go,” Sheats said.

The nonprofit House of Hope, which aims to open soon, plans to house up to 17 female veterans and some children in a communal environment.

Sheats said she decided to try to lend a hand after learning the organization isn’t getting any state or federal help because it isn’t yet serving any clients, which it can’t do until it can open its doors.

“They can’t take on clients until they have funding in place to provide the needed services. It’s a Catch-22,” Sheats told the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.

There is no other shelter in Maine specifically for female veterans, with or without children. Organizers bought the 8 Summer St. house in Augusta to fill the gap after creating the nonprofit in 2015.

Much of the nearly 180-year-old house has been updated in preparation for veterans and children to move in. A ribbon-cutting is tentatively slated for April 13.

In addition to providing housing, the nonprofit plans to have an on-site social worker experienced in issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma.

It will have a van to transport veterans to the Veterans Administration hospital at Togus and other sites, along with volunteers teaching everything from cooking to budgeting.

Sheats’ bill is straightforward, merely authorizing a $150,000 grant from the state this year. Nobody testified in opposition. The committee plans to discuss Sheats’ request soon.

Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope in Augusta, which is slated to open housing for veterans next month.

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