One area of expansion in MACV’s work to end Veteran homelessness focuses on specialized services for currently and formerly incarcerated Veterans. Justice Involved Veterans Coordinator Mikaela Hunley, M.A., works with staff at each correctional facility throughout the state to address the housing and stabilization needs of Veterans coming out of incarceration. She also collaborates with landlords, other community partners and MACV staff to meet the transitional needs of recently released former inmates struggling to reintegrate into society. Her focused expertise serving this subgroup of homeless Veterans closes an all-too-common gap in services which often lands Veterans in homelessness and then in the justice system.
Mikaela recently worked with a Veteran scheduled for release from Faribault Correctional Facility. The inmate qualified for 100% disabled Veteran status, entitling him to both financial and healthcare benefits from the VA, prior to his incarceration. Mikaela got the wheels in motion to activate these benefits upon his release, a process likely to take around two months to complete.
The case manager also engaged with the Veteran’s parole officer to learn about his conditions of release, which is often crucial in keeping Veterans out of the justice system once they’re on parole. “It helps [the Veteran] through this to ensure that he doesn’t violate parole and get sent back,” Mikaela notes. Lack of familiarity with the rules they need to follow upon release from incarceration often lead to recidivism for former inmates. Repeated offenses only worsen the cycle of instability, incarceration, and a resulting drain on community resources.
Restrictions on where recently released parolees can live often complicate the process to find housing, which was a reality for the Veteran Mikaela assisted. However, the incredible network of landlords with whom our team has cultivated relationships came to the rescue in this case. Mikaela not only secured a lease for the Veteran, but MACV also approved direct financial assistance to cover the client’s security deposit and rent for two months. The Veteran’s disability benefits should reinstate after this early period of resettling in the community and offer a stable source of income which can easily cover his living expenses.
Hunley’s work also includes exploring benefits eligibility and ongoing contact with parole officers to ensure compliance with the conditions of release each justice-involved Veteran has. Internal collaborations with MACV provider staff help ensure the Veteran’s transition to a long-term housing case manager and development of a long-term service plan. Thanks to Mikaela’s diligence and our outstanding housing team, we know that this individual is in good hands and has a fighting chance to succeed in the outside world.