NE zero homeless vets

March 2019//News

Groups Declare End to Veteran Homelessness in NE Minnesota

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.

Paul Pederson with MACV in Duluth

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.

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