Community partnerships help provide stable housing for veterans in Minnesota

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There are 266 veterans listed on the homeless registry in Minnesota. On Penn Ave. South in Bloomington, those who have served our country will have a chance at a fresh start.

A new four-bedroom home will offer transitional housing. Four single veterans could move in, or it could house a family.

“The hope is that they'll get back on their feet, become independent and then go on to live independently here in the community,” said Jody Kern, president of the Housing First Minnesota Foundation Board.

Housing First Minnesota partnered with builder Lennar and the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV). This is the third Housing for Heroes project they’ve completed together.

The first two homes helped 14 veterans and their families.

“Our average time is nine months per stay,” said Neal Loidolt, president MACV.

Their goal is to move the veterans into more permanent housing. Over the life of this home, Loidolt expects as many as 80 veterans could live on Penn Ave. South.

“The ability to house a veteran and their family is pretty significant for us,” he said. “The housing market is pretty difficult in the metro the way it is.”

Loidolt said the homeless registry also doesn't give a full picture of the number of veterans who are homeless.

“That’s just the minimum number,” he said. “There's some number [of veterans] that maybe don't put their name on the list."

In Chaska, a new partnership has formed between MACV and the Carver County CDA.

“When you're dealing with a number as large as 270, we know that we're not going to build houses fast enough,” said Jon Lovald,  MACV chief operating officer.

He showed KSTP the work underway at a new four-unit apartment building. Carver County CDA bought the property and is working on renovating it.

The apartments are specifically designed for families.

“There are many shelters but the shelter options for families are very few,” said Lovald. “This can be their forever place.”

MACV helps place the veterans and provide wrap-around services.

“We had our first resident move in in February, it's a single mom with three kids,” said Allison Streich, deputy director of Carver County CDA.

She told KSTP a second female veteran and her child moved in upstairs.

They are working to renovate the third unit with the help of Home Depot. Streich said they’ve developed community partners throughout the process.

Bountiful Baskets Food Shelf is providing food supplies to ease the transition.

“I think it's just a great way to start out in your new home,” she said. “For those of us who have never experienced it, I don't think we can begin to imagine the trauma associated with that.”

The location is also convenient for families.

“It’s right downtown, it's within walking distance of the government center, within walking distance of our office, the post office,” said Streich. “Our intention is to have a space down there where residents can meet with MACV or Carver County, with their veterans folks.”

They hope this partnership will become a model statewide to help end veteran homelessness.

“If we could do that in all of the surrounding counties and even into outstate Minnesota, that's how we'll get it done,” said Lovald.

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