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Northeast Minnesota Continuum of Care clears waiting list for homeless veterans in six counties and three tribal governments

Dec 29, 2018 04:33AM ● By Editor

Media release from the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs - December 28, 2018

The Northeast Minnesota Continuum of Care (CoC) announced they have cleared their housing waiting lists for homeless veterans. The Northeast CoC consists of six counties (Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching and Lake Counties) and three Tribal Governments (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage of Lake Superior Chippewa and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) that surround St. Louis County. 

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, HUD, and VA determined the six counties and three Indian Reservations served by the Northeast CoC have effectively ended homelessness among Veterans, becoming the fourth jurisdiction in the state of Minnesota to do so. The West Central, Southwest and Northwest CoC’s all declared an end to veteran homelessness in 2017.

“Congratulations to all the partners in the Northeast Minnesota Continuum of Care for making sure local veterans have a place to call home,” Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, said. “Building an effective system over such a large, mostly rural area is no small task, and places like Northeast Minnesota should be proud of leading the way.”

The progress demonstrated through this announcement is the direct result of joint efforts across the state. The Northeast CoC is comprised of a broad coalition of stakeholders, including the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA), Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency (MHFA), County Veterans Service Officers, emergency shelters and a number of private, public and non-profit organizations.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that ending veteran homelessness is achievable when there is a plan and strong partnerships,” Commissioner Larry Shellito said. “Together we can change lives, and bring our veterans ‘all the way home.’”

While the announcement marks a significant accomplishment, the new focus in the NE CoC has already shifted to sustainability.

“Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas,” Cara Lundquist, co-coordinator of the Northeast Continuum of Care said. “Ending veteran homelessness here in the Northeast CoC does not mean that we will never have another homeless veteran. Rather, it means that our efforts will largely be focused on prevention. When homelessness does occur, the goal is that the systems in place will rapidly respond and make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring.”

Lundquist and partners advocate that as veterans who have not yet come forward for assistance become known, or as veterans have crises and find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness, it is critical to continue to maintain the integrity of the strong systems and supports that have helped achieve functional zero.

In 2017 the Northwest, West Central and Southwest CoCs all announced an end to veteran homelessness in Minnesota. The remaining six CoCs around the state continue to work toward the same goal.

Across the state, efforts since December 2014 have housed 1,622 previously homeless veterans. Minnesota’s unique statewide homeless veterans registry is largely credited as a key to success in housing homeless veterans. Since it launched in 2014 the Registry has accelerated Minnesota’s progress toward the goal of ending veteran homelessness by creating individual housing plans based on each veteran’s unique challenges and situation. Once on the registry, veterans experiencing homelessness are typically housed within four months.

Today the registry lists another 251 veterans by name who are experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. Of this number, approximately 69 have a housing plan. Research demonstrates that the most lasting solutions are personalized for each individual or family on a veteran-by-veteran basis.

Anyone who knows of a veteran experiencing homelessness can also connect them with services by calling 1 (888) LinkVet, (546-5838).

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