Assembly Approves Senator Roth’s Proposal to Protect Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma

August 11, 2016

Senate Bill 866 would allow Prop. 41 funds to be used to create gender specific veterans housing to support female survivors of military sexual trauma

(Sacramento, CA) – Senator Richard D. Roth’s (D-Riverside) proposal to protect survivors of military sexual trauma was approved by the California State Assembly today on a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 74-0.

“I am proud to author Senate Bill 866 and stand with the women who have survived sexual assault, rape, and harassment while serving our nation,” said Senator Roth.  “These survivors battle the psychological, physical and social effects of military sexual trauma for years and deserve our support.”

The California Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that nearly one-quarter of female veterans report experiencing military sexual trauma.  After their service, female veterans continue to be at risk, with a rate of reported sexual assault that is 12 times higher than that for the general civilian female population.

In 2014, Senator Roth co-authored and Californians enacted Proposition 41, the Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, which allocated approximately $600 million of existing funds to provide affordable multifamily rental, supportive and transitional housing, with the goal of eventually providing stable housing to 7,000 homeless and at risk veterans and their families. However, presently there have been no applications for gender specific housing for survivors of military sexual trauma.

By allowing Proposition 41 applicants to build gender specific housing for this highly vulnerable population, SB 866 ensures that survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) are given sufficient opportunities to receive housing and supportive services that suit their needs. 

SB 866 is narrowly tailored to ensure that gender specific treatment can be provided without violating existing gender discrimination housing laws.

Senator Roth continued: “Given that the survivors of MST often report feeling intimidated in predominantly male veterans facilities, they are often deterred from accessing the housing and supportive services they need and deserve. That is why SB 866 authorizes the creation of gender specific housing projects, and I am confident the Governor will recognize the importance of protecting female military veterans and sign SB 866 into law.”

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