ORCUTT, Calif. - More housing opportunities for homeless veteran women are coming to the Central Coast.
A nonprofit organization is celebrating its first year since inception, and three months since opening a stability home for women who served the country. It is now looking into building tiny homes for them.
Operation WEBS: Women Empowered Build Strong, is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday afternoon in Orcutt. The event celebrates the implementation of the first part of a three-phased affordable housing program.
The organization's founder, Sandy Blair, says she wanted to provide options for veterans struggling to reintegrate themselves into society like she once did.
"I failed miserably and was unemployed for over a year, lost everything," Blair said.
Blair served in the military overseas for a decade.
"You don't speak civilian language, you don't understand the workplace environment, it's not what you're used to."
She knew she wasn't alone.
"More and more women are in combat roles," she said.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) say in 2012, 25 percent of homeless veterans were located in California – the highest percentage of any other state.
"Last year, we had a homeless count of female veterans of 15 at Stand Down," Blair said.
So last June, the ex-soldier opened up a stability home offering affordable housing.
"This is where women come to rebuild their lives. From experience, we are the members who are overlooked simply because we're women."
The home can host up to four women, but Blair is now ready to offer a tiny solution to a big problem: tiny homes.
"We're going to create a village kind of community where our sisters can come and they can farm, and they can do all these holistic healing processes, kind of away from the hustle and bustle, away from the city and all the distractions."
Blair says they hope they can extend their service to male veterans in the future.
In the meantime, other groups are taking the lead on building a sense of community among former military men.
"We have a Friday night softball league, it's got 100 veterans," said Band of Brothers president Steven Baird. "We have a Sunday night bowling league, it's for veterans and families. We do everything together, kinda build that camaraderie."
Baird says they're also building relationships with law enforcement.
"If they get a call about crisis on a vet, they will call us, and we'll go help with the crisis, we'll help bring them to the house at Camp Flores," Baird said.
Meanwhile, Operations WEBS is in the process of hosting some fundraisers.
A 5k run scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed to August.
More event information can be found on their website.