Extended Stay Property Coordinator Kasey Ylinen embodies the attitude MACV looks for in our community partners every day she comes to work. Tasked with managing Extended Stays like the property in Faribault, Ms. Ylinen advocates for her residents because she sees it as her job.
Businesses like the Extended Stay have a unique role in addressing the housing needs of local communities. Low-income Veterans who otherwise face unsheltered or “street” homelessness sometimes use the Extended Stay as temporary housing which turns into a long-term stay. The Extended Stay Faribault has four or five of such residents staying there at present, with MACV staff delivering services to help the Veterans find long-term housing at a lower rate.
Kasey is no stranger to the challenges created by some of the Veterans who live at the property, but, in her words, “I am not going to put a Veteran on the street. This is our responsibility to help these people.”
Ylinen reached out to MACV before staff engaged with her, when a Veteran residing at the Extended Stay posed a problem both in paying on time and general behavior. Working with social service providers has become an increasingly large element in achieving her goal to serve the local community with a high-quality hospitality experience. Tasks stemming from this approach can include writing letters of recommendation for potential landlords or problem-solving the situations which can arise at any time.
Identifying solutions which meet the needs of Veterans while keeping other residents and the property itself safe and comfortable makes Kasey an ideal connection for our staff in Southern Minnesota. “Everybody needs a second chance,” explains Kasey. “Everybody needs a fresh start sometimes. We’re the place where you can come and do that.”
Longtime partners Standard Heating & Air Conditioning simultaneously donated air conditioning units, as well as their time and expertise to update the A/C systems in our houses. They completed this important work just in time for the record-setting heat wave we experienced last week. The age of some MACV houses require special expertise and ongoing advisement on how to get the best return on investment in terms of heating and cooling, which play vital roles in the health of our residents.
The Heartland Outlet, an outlet store which supports the HEART ministry of Hosanna Church, donated or sold flooring materials at heavily discounted prices for three MACV-owned transitional homes in 2021 alone. Their store also sells household items like furniture and small appliances directly to low-income consumers with vouchers for the store. Ministries like HEART and social enterprises like Heartland Outlet address this need by making furniture and basic amenities accessible even for our lowest income clients.
Between these two partners, MACV’s houses are in better shape than ever. We look forward to engaging with our volunteers and stakeholders to make sure MACV transitional housing offers Veterans the best setting to get their lives back on track. MACV thanks partners like Heartland Outlet and Standard Heating & Air Conditioning for such great work and collaboration with our operations team.
MACV Veteran Asia moved from transitional housing into her own place last week. She was able to move in almost fully furnished due to some donations we secured. Look for more stories about the journey Asia has undertaken in the past few months and years to come, but for now we want to celebrate this huge accomplishment. What a win!
School may be out for kids, but not for us!
Here at MACV, we have a certain way of talking about homelessness. In the world of housing and human services, providers and stakeholders need to have a common language so we can understand the problems we encounter and the solutions which work the best. This month, the newsletter team launches the MACV 101 series so you can get an inside look in the housing world.
This month, we explore chronic homelessness. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, chronic homelessness describes people who have experienced homelessness for at least a year — or repeatedly — while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder, or physical disability. Many of the Veterans who remain homeless after ten years of coordinated work to end Veteran homelessness in Minnesota fall under this category, with 68 of the 280 Veterans on the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry qualifying as such.
How do we fix it? One proven intervention is permanent supportive housing. Many chronically homeless Vets are just not cut out for mainstream housing. They need extra support like financial assistance, case management, and other services for the long haul, not just until they “get back on their feet.” You know who has permanent supportive housing specialized to the needs of military Veterans? You got it: MACV!
Longtime supporter Ecolab has awarded MACV with grants from their Foundation for several consecutive years, with their most recent gift arriving in April. The company also sent four helpful volunteers to assist with staining a fence and cleaning up one of MACV’s transitional homes in time for summertime living on May 6! The employees got to model MACV’s brand-new volunteer t-shirts and get some time outside on a beautiful day, all while helping us improve the quality of life for Veterans working toward housing stability. Thanks again, guys!
U.S. Navy Veteran Megan’s life had not been easy for some time. While Megan lived in Mississippi, she could no longer stay with her family due to overcrowding and so they paid for her to live in a hotel. Things started looking up after Megan’s mom referred her a job for the post office in Minnesota. Megan applied, got the job, and started on March 22nd, 2021.
When Megan came to Minnesota from Mississippi to work at the post office in March, she did not have a place to live. But as a single Veteran with no dependents, she decided to live out of her car until she could afford long-term housing. However, this decision had its own impacts. After being late for a couple trainings, Megan was let go from the post office. Without a source of income, she started earning cash by driving a friend to and from work.
Fast forward to April. After MACV Case Manager Amanda Hooper (pictured on the right) secured an initial intake from Megan, MACV encountered difficulty verifying her Veteran status in any system. She turned to Lina at the St. Paul Vet Center, who found Megan’s verification and other information. Lina then brought the Veteran to the MACV office and Amanda helped Megan complete an on-the-spot intake for our hotel program. MACV Case Manager Shelbe Robertson had already completed Megan’s background, so as soon as Megan filled out the paperwork, our team squared away her reservation with one of our hotel partners as a stopgap while figuring out the next steps.
Hooper connected Megan with a couple Veteran assistance programs during her intake and realized that she would be a perfect candidate for the women’s transitional home managed by MACV. So she called MACV Metro Housing Team Leader Dave Nguyen, who immediately added Megan to the queue.
After completing paperwork for the assistance programs for which she was eligible, Megan secured insurance, financial assistance, and moved into transitional housing within one week. The remarkable collaboration between MACV providers and our partners at the Vet Center has resulted in stable housing for a Veteran who thought she would lose everything just a few weeks ago. Today, Megan is looking for jobs, getting medical appointments set up, and has a safe and stable place to stay.
“I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the moving parts because this was a case that moved so smooth,” relates Ms. Hooper. Teamwork like what came together to support Megan exemplifies MACV’s approach to ending Veteran homelessness. Our team is committed to empowering Megan in her journey to a stable, happy life in Minnesota, and we are honored to walk alongside her.
We are thrilled to announce the award of a one-time grant from the Ordean Foundation, which serves the Northeast region of Minnesota. The end of Veteran homelessness in Duluth and the surrounding area is within our sights this year, and the Foundation’s award is meant to give MACV the lift we need to close the final gap between our goal and where we stand today. Thanks for your faith in our mission, Ordean!
The City of Duluth has generously awarded $50,000 to MACV for our outreach and housing work in Duluth!
We have partnered with the City for several years and through a number of funding awards. Our remarkable North Minnesota team is integral in the ongoing relationship with this funder, and we are proud to consider ourselves a partner with the City of Duluth in the fight to end Veteran homelessness. Thanks for your support, Duluth!
Volunteers from Minnesota Army National Guard OCS Class 65 came out on a cool spring morning to help us tear down a garage for our next project. Thanks for taking care of your brothers and sisters in arms, Class 65!