The Northeast Minnesota Continuum of Care(CoC), a local organization that works towards ending homelessness, announced Wednesday that they cleared their waiting list for housing homeless veterans in six counties and three Indian reservations.
The counties that have ended veteran homeless are Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, and Lake Counties. The Indian reservations are Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage of Lake Superior Chippewa and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The counties and tribal governments are ones the Northeast CoC affiliates with.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and VA determined the counties and Indian reservations served by the northeast CoC have effectively ended veteran homelessness.
The northeast Minnesota CoC is the fourth jurisdiction in the state of Minnesota to end homelessness. The West Central, Southwest and Northwest CoC’s all declared an end to Veteran homelessness in 2017.
“We live in a great community. Duluth is phenomenal. The resources and the partnerships are out there and once we come to the table and put our minds to it, there’s nothing that I don’t think we can’t do,” Paul Pedersen, the programs and outreach manager of MAC-V Duluth, said.
The Northeast CoC works directly with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency, County Veterans Service Officers, emergency shelters and a number of private, public and non-profit organizations.
“We’ve been working really hard to end veteran homelessness. Since 2015 there’s been a reduction of over 56 percent,” Pedersen said.
“Congratulations to all the partners in the Northeast Minnesota Continuum of Care for making sure local Veterans have a place to call home,” said Matthew Doherty, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, in a news release. “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 coalition’s work doesn’t end there. It’s important to help veterans maintain their home.
“There will always be homelessness. The focus is on prevention and assisting veterans once they are housed to maintain so that it doesn’t reoccur,” Lisa Lauzon, the case manager for MAC-V Duluth, said.
Now the Northeast Minnesota CoC’s focus is on prevention.
“Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas,” said Cara Lundquist, co-coordinator of the Northeast Continuum of Care, in a news release. “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.”
And that’s done by providing veterans with the tools and resources they need to live a healthy and safe life. It takes a team of passionate and dedicated people to do just that.
“It’s a ripple effect in the community. If we eternally work as a team and accomplish what we’ve accomplished today, I carry that out to the community and I can say we did that eternally,” Lauzon said.
Across the state, efforts since December 2014 have housed 1,622 previously homeless Veterans. Minnesota’s Homeless Veterans Registry has been credited in helping house homeless Veterans. The registry launched in 2014 and has been key in helping ending veteran homelessness by creating housing plans based on each veteran’s challenges and situation. Once on the registry, veterans experiencing homelessness are typically housed within four months.
Read more at WDIO CBS – Click here.
Veterans Tribute Bell Contains Dozens Of Deeply Personal Military Items
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Chief Petty Officer Alan Dix retired from the Navy, but he’s still dedicated to serving those who serve our country. As chair of the Minnesota Veterans Team Members Network for Wells Fargo, he helped make the idea of a tribute bell a reality.
The bell contains dozens of military items donated by the community, all with deep personal meaning. “We had a box in every branch in Minnesota and asked people to bring their stuff in, and we had some really interesting donations,” Dix said.
Bill Coy donated one of his father’s dog tags.
“He was stationed in Germany during the Korean war, but he met my mom in Germany so we trace all of us back to that meeting through the military in Germany,” Coy said. It was an easy decision for the family. “It’s beautiful, but it’s also permanent,” Coy said. “Instead of visiting a cemetery, we can say hey the bell’s going to be at the 4th of July parade, we should go.”
MACV’s Jon Lovald says the bell’s portability is part of what makes it so special. “Any organization that has the capacity to pull a small trailer will be able to come and check this out from MACV and take it to their location,” Lovald said.
It’s a moving symbol for the community.“It’s a reminder of everybody who’s gone before us, the people that are out there serving right now and it’s also a motivator for the future,” Dix said.Click here to see the bell being made.
The MACV supporters and community are always ready to help Veterans.
Last fall, Army Veteran Verne Parker reached out to MACV for help obtaining housing and stable employment. Verne was surviving on less than $150 per month, which made most housing options unaffordable. Her lack of housing created a cascade of challenges, including an inability to obtain and maintain employment that would help her out of this crisis. Her case manager, Mikaela, worked with community partners to connect her with temporary housing so she could focus on finding a new job. She remained diligent and by working with our employment specialist, was able to find a position that allowed her to afford her own apartment. Unfortunately, as many Minnesotans find, the employment she obtained wasn’t easily accessible by public transit from her new home.
This past month, one of our supporters, Jane from Victoria, MN, donated her Honda Civic in hopes of helping a veteran. The timing couldn’t have been better for Verne. Our team was able navigate the process of transferring the title and ownership over to Verne. With this gift of a car, our team and our supporters were able to help connect all the pieces to help one veteran find employment, reliable transportation, and have a permanent place to call home.
In early March 2019, we surprised Verne with keys to her new-to-her vehicle. She had no idea of what to expect and was overjoyed by the generosity. Take a look at the video of Verne getting in the car for the first time. Click for Video.
If you have a gently used and low mileage vehicle you would like to donate to a Veteran, please contact our team at MACV. Sustainable housing solutions are about much more than a place to sleep; every veteran has a unique story to tell and their own path to long-term stability. Let’s make sure all of Minnesota’s Veterans have every opportunity to have safe and affordable housing.
Through innovative technology and boots-on-the-ground grit, the state of Minnesota is currently approaching its longstanding goal of ending veteran homelessness.
State and federal agencies have teamed up for a unique, collaborative approach, which involved establishing the nation’s first statewide homeless registry, to combat pervasive homelessness among former U.S. service members in the state, where it frequently reaches subzero temperatures in the winter. The official count of homeless veterans now sits at just 234 for the entire state — down 53 percent since 2010, the Star-Tribune reports.
And they’re not slowing down any time soon. “We are absolutely laser-focused on getting to zero,” said Neal Loidolt, chief executive of the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV). “But we shouldn’t stop there: We should take what we are learning with veterans and apply it to the entire homeless population.”
The MACV has been a particularly strong force in the push to end veteran homelessness. The group created the homeless registry, which is reportedly updated in real-time, shares its information with every county in the state, and partners with more than two dozen nonprofits. Each and every veteran in the registry is paired with a case worker, who helps with all elements of the rehousing process, including enrolling veterans in benefit programs and even driving them to meet with landlords.
Volunteers for the group hit the streets weekly to speak with homeless veterans and get them enrolled on the registry, which has reportedly helped 1,700 veterans find homes since its inception. The case workers also try to connect each veteran with an employment specialist, to make sure they can keep their homes once they find them.
Marjorie Kray, who along with her veteran husband Mark had been homeless for the last three years, spoke through tears about the impact the state’s Veteran Affairs office had on their life. “It’s so overwhelming,” she said. “It’s like someone waved a magic wand and turned our lives upside down.”
Robert Kleen, a 60-year-old former U.S. Army officer, nearly faced death on the streets after being stabbed with a butcher knife and surviving a fire when the tent he was living in burned down. Last month, he moved in to a studio apartment after being connected with a social worker who got him approved for a housing voucher, and finding him a landlord who would accept it.
“For the first time in years, I can hold my head high and not live in fear — just knowing where I’m going to be from now on,” he said.
At Saturday night’s (Feb 16th), UMD Men’s Bulldogs Game, Super One Foods and vendor partners from Smithfield and Eckrich Farms gathered at Amsoil Arena to present a check to the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans for $5,200.
The MACV, is a statewide nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to helping MN Veterans since 1990. Their mission is to provide assistance throughout Minnesota to positively motivated veterans and their families who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or are experiencing other life crises. They accomplish this mission by providing services directly or in collaboration with other service agencies.
In 2017 MACV provided services to over 5,000 veterans – Direct financial assistance was provided to nearly 1,500 veterans and their families, 1,800 veterans attended one of 10 standdown events, and 1,700 veterans attended one of the 40 legal clinics that were held throughout the state of MN. Financial assistance such as rent and deposit on an apartment, financial assistance to prevent an eviction, and financial assistance to help keep the lights or heat on in a family’s home, are just a few examples of some of the assistance provided by the team at MACV.
The MACV does a tremendous job of helping veterans in their times of need and also helps them develop paths to future success. The gift from Super One Foods, Smithfield, and Eckrich Farms will assist the MACV in carrying out their primary mission of ending veteran homelessness.
In attendance during this check presentation:
Super One Foods attendees: Patrick Miner, Greg Larson, and Chad Nordby
Smithfield/Eckrich Farms attendees: Matt Herrala and Fred Degrazia
MACV attendees: Keith Beichler and Paul Pedersen
A bitter, subzero wind lashed at their clothing as an aging couple and their small family of pets — three cats and a bulldog — emerged from a rusted Chevrolet Malibu packed to the ceiling with their belongings.
The couple, Mark and Marjorie Kray, had spent most of the past three years sleeping in their car, moving from highway rest stops to store parking lots on the outer edges of the Twin Cities. Bleary-eyed and cold, they braced themselves for disappointment as they entered a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs office in downtown Minneapolis.
To their surprise, a team of VA outreach workers responded instantly, brewing them coffee while peppering Mark with questions about his service in the Army. Within hours, the couple were signed up for a federal veterans housing voucher and booked into a nearby hotel until an apartment was found.
“It’s so overwhelming,” Marjorie Kray, 59, said through tears. “It’s like someone waved a magic wand and turned our lives upside down.”
The Krays are among hundreds of Minnesotans who benefited in recent years as part of an intensifying push to eradicate homelessness among veterans. A goal that once seemed unattainable — securing safe and stable housing for every veteran known to be homeless — is now within reach. With military precision and the innovative use of data analytics, agencies in a broad swath of Minnesota — covering more than half the state’s counties — have cleared their waiting lists of veterans seeking housing. State officials predict that by year’s end, Minnesota could become just the fourth state in the nation to effectively end veteran homelessness.
“The intensive, collaborative approach that we have seen in Minnesota is unique — and is a model for the rest of the country,” said Kathryn Monet, chief executive of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
State and local agencies have reached this point by adopting the sort of coordinated urgency normally reserved for disease outbreaks or other public health emergencies. The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs created the nation’s first statewide registry of homeless veterans. The list is updated in real time and shared with every county and tribal agency in the state, as well as more than two dozen nonprofits. All veterans on the registry are appointed a case manager, who helps them enroll in benefits and even drives them to meetings with landlords.
The state also developed a regional system for tracking progress and ensuring that no veteran falls through the cracks. Every two weeks, 10 regional housing offices across the state — from the southwestern corner to the Iron Range — hold separate conference calls in which teams of social workers address the unique challenges of every person in the database.
And then there is aggressive outreach: Every week, dozens of workers fan out to emergency shelters, prisons and public places where homeless veterans tend to congregate and enroll them in housing, health and other social service programs designed to get them back on their feet. State-funded groups like the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) even send drivers to pick up homeless veterans and ferry them to safe housing.
Although the state’s push to end veteran homelessness began nearly a decade ago, it has intensified rapidly in recent years.
“We are absolutely laser-focused on getting to zero,” Neal Loidolt, chief executive of MACV, said as he made the rounds of a Minneapolis homeless shelter one afternoon. “But we shouldn’t stop there: We should take what we are learning with veterans and apply it to the entire homeless population.”
That is already starting to happen.
In Hennepin County, for instance, officials have begun targeting particularly vulnerable groups — including youth and people who are chronically homeless — using separate, real-time databases modeled on the veterans registry. In northern St. Louis County, officials hold regular conference calls to discuss individual cases and strategies to reduce homelessness, borrowing another page from the veterans’ playbook.
‘We go to them’
It was 23 degrees below zero on a weeknight when a trio of veteran outreach workers, in parkas and work boots, arrived at the doorway of a homeless shelter in south Minneapolis. Moments later the doors swung open, and the smell of bodies and hot food rose from a basement shelter crammed with mattresses and blankets.
“Have we got any veterans here?” Tim Myers, one of the outreach workers, shouted to the swirl of people passing through the doors.
With clipboards in hand, they scoured the crowded room. An older man who described himself as a Vietnam veteran approached warily, expressing concern about whether he had enough military experience to qualify. A member of the team calmly explained that even one day of active-duty service can be enough to qualify for housing and employment benefits.
“We don’t sit around and wait for veterans to come to us. We go to them,” said Jonelle Glubke, program director with the VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) in Minneapolis.
This intensive approach has helped nearly 1,700 homeless veterans find housing since the state created the real-time registry. The official count of homeless vets has declined by 53 percent since 2010, to 234 individuals statewide — far exceeding declines in other states.
To reduce recidivism — veterans cycling through homelessness — groups like MACV also try to connect every person on the registry with an employment specialist.
Donald Belle, 56, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, said he has struggled with addiction and homelessness since he left the military — a decision, he said, that left him “rudderless.” He drifted from job to job, and crime to crime, until he finally sought substance treatment at the VA hospital in St. Cloud. While there, he connected with a social worker with MACV who found him a job as a janitor as well as a room in a transitional home for veterans.
“Veterans are like knives sharpening other knives,” said Belle, who has stayed sober for nearly three years. ”We keep each other sharp when we stick together.”
Tent burns down
Robert Kleen, 60, credits the veterans groups with saving his life. A former U.S. Army officer, Kleen began a descent into homelessness in 2009 following the deaths of his wife and children in separate car accidents in North Dakota. Suffering from severe depression, Kleen quit his job as a truck driver, abruptly moved to Minneapolis and began living on the streets. Kleen eventually pitched a tent on a dirt clearing beneath a downtown Minneapolis bridge, where he and about 10 others watched over one another for safety.
Yet the small encampment was not enough to protect Kleen. On a recent morning, as traffic roared by overhead, Kleen pulled up his shirt to reveal a 2-inch scar just below his heart where another homeless man stabbed him with a butcher knife last September. Weeks later, Kleen badly burned his right hand when he attempted to heat his tent with a makeshift stove and set the fabric on fire.
“It seemed like God was sending me a message — that if I didn’t get help, then I would end up dead,” Kleen said.
When help finally arrived last fall, it was beyond anything Kleen had imagined. He was staying at the Higher Ground Shelter in Minneapolis after his tent burned down when he saw a sign on a door promoting services for veterans. A social worker immediately connected him to the VA resource center nearby, which found that Kleen qualified for a housing voucher that covers about two-thirds of his rent. By January, social workers had identified a landlord willing to accept his voucher.
Last week, Kleen was ebullient as he walked into a studio apartment just a short walk from where his tent burned to the ground. With a gleeful shout of “Yahoo!” he dropped a plastic bag with all his belongings to the floor and gazed over his new home with a look of contentment.
“For the first time in years,” he said, “I can hold my head high and not live in fear — just knowing where I’m going to be from now on.”
Last year, MACV touched the lives of 5,000 veterans in
The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, founded
some 28 years ago, continues to be a major force in
Minnesota on behalf of veterans and, in particular, homeless
“A lot of our clients simply just didn’t get a break,” said
Neal Loidolt, president and CEO of the non-profit. “We all
got breaks in our lives that helped us succeed. But for some
people, at one point everybody went left and they went
right. They were put in a tough spot.”
Finding a home for somebody is much more than giving
them the key to an apartment. Statistics from MACV show
that 61 percent of the homeless have a physical limitation,
mental illness, PTSD, chemical dependency, traumatic
brain injury or a combination of the above.
The goal of MAVC is to solve the problems that caused
homelessness, and do it in a permanent way. The problems
may involve not having a job, alcoholism or drug addiction,
legal snafus, or domestic abuse.
This past year, over 600 housing placements were made.
In just the past few weeks, MACV could be seen with
the Minnesota Twins and WCCO television staging a holiday dinner for homeless vets at Target Field.
A few days later, MACV was part of an effort with Wells
Fargo to bring a Tribute Bell to Minnesota for use by veterans.
The Stand Down for veterans in Duluth this year, an
event where veterans can get services, information, haircuts,
and much more, was held in conjunction with the
Duluth Music Festival.
Work is underway to have the Stand Down in Rochester
be part of Rochester Days.
All this public exposure of MACV, and its mission of
ending veterans homelessness, is not an accident. The
organization is deliberately reaching out and forming partnerships
that can help the mission.
Much of this additional emphasis on working with others
is due to the leadership of Loidolt, who is in his third year
at the helm.
Loidolt joined the military in 1984 when he enlisted in
the National Guard as an ammunition specialist. While in
the Guard, he went through the ROTC program at St. Cloud
and became an Army officer. Along the way he also earned
a law degree at Hamline.
Loidolt served two tours in Iraq, one as a deputy director
in the reconstruction office and the other as chief of staff for
Minnesota’s 34th Division. He is currently a two star general
and serves as Minnesota’s Deputy Adjutant General.
He will retire from the Guard this summer after 35 years
Loidolt said he looked around for what to do with his
post-military life, and the choices were either to go into the
business world, or to try and use his skills in the non-profit
He decided on MACV. “The opportunity just seemed
right. I wanted to help a group that could use my help.”
The challenge of veterans’ homelessness is a major one.
“One thing I learned in the Army was organization. I can do
that. But housing has been a high learning curve for me.”
He said he didn’t try to do it all at once. “My first year
was mainly just paying attention. The second year was dealing
with the crises and related things. I think the third year
we can do some stuff.”
Click to read full article: Legionnaire Feb 2019, Neal Loidolt, MACV, www.mac-v.org
Earlier this summer, Cub identified 50 Minnesota non-profit organizations which would each receive a $5,000 grant. Now they have decide to let others help choose which charity will receive a $50,000 donation from Cub!
Everyone can vote once a day through Sunday Oct 7th. Please encourage everyone you know to go vote and share the link on all social media and email contact.
Please share with everyone you know this week, we need to spread the word all week!
You can HELP by cut and pasting the following (include link) into LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter:
Please help MACV win $50,000 to end Veteran’s homelessness! Just by Voting for MACV you can make a huge impact in supporting our Veterans in need. #voteMACV