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Carver County introduces new housing to address veteran homelessness

Updated: January 03, 2020 06:30 PM

Minnesota is trying to become the fourth state in the country to end veteran homelessness.

On Friday, a ceremony took place in Carver County to help in meeting that goal. Currently, there are 295 homeless veterans in Minnesota.

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"It's no longer a marathon when it comes to this issue, it's a sprint," said Larry Herke, Commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.

Herke, though, said he's seeing progress.

"They've been in a car, they've been under a bridge, they've been on a neighbor's or friend's couch, and they've come to us," Herke said.

This latest partnership is between the Carver County Community Development Agency and the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. A ribbon-cutting introduced a brand new four-unit transitional housing project in Chaska.

"They answered the call for our defense; we at least can assist with ensuring that they and their families are sheltered," said Randy Maluchnik, Carver County Commissioner.

Plus, the Chaska Lions donated nearly $20,000 to rehab the three-bedroom unit.

"This will help that group of almost 300 veterans that we're tracking," Herke said.

Once veterans are all moved in at this location, Carver County Veteran Services will take the lead on programming, including help with health care benefits, education and career support.

"We here in Carver County will strive not to leave our veterans behind," Maluchnik said.

Since 2014, the number of homeless veterans has been cut in half in Minnesota. While this doesn't mean anyone who served will never be without a place to call home, it's creating a solid response system just in case.

"They've seen the success that we've had this year, and they've decided to have faith in us to help them, and they've put up their hand and said, 'I need help,'" Herke said.

The first veteran to apply for housing at this location has been approved, and they're just finalizing the move-in date.

The states that have effectively ended homelessness among veterans are Connecticut, Delaware and Virginia.

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