Staff, partners, and friends:
In this time of loss, anger, and sorrow in our community, and as we reflect on injustice and hardship, we at MACV are keenly aware of the challenges that our Veterans are going through. For many it is trauma upon trauma.
Our staff are members of our Minnesota community, many are Veterans, and some are still serving themselves.
I am proud that we as an organization continue to show up, through our grief, for our Veterans, and for our communities that we care deeply about.
Please know that we continue to operate.
We continue to bring our energy, creativity, and compassion to our community’s Veterans.
If you are working with Veterans who are struggling, with housing, employment, or legal issues, continue to refer them to MACV.
If you are working with Veterans who are struggling in ways that we did not imagine before the past week, or the past months from the Covid-19 pandemic, please refer them to MACV and we will problem solve and serve those who have served us.
Please share this message to other partners on your team and in the community who are working with Veterans.
Be well as we repair our systems and communities to work for all of our neighbors.
Housing Story by the Family Housing Fund.
To end veteran homelessness, a unique public-private partnership has developed in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) has partnered with a private property management company – Property Solutions & Services (PSS) – to develop a referral system that prioritizes permanent housing for homeless Veteran households.
Three years ago, PSS had taken over management of a troubled Minneapolis building where a nonprofit partner was connecting residents to social services. When that project ended, Asher Gavzy, President and CEO of PSS, was inspired to pursue social services for residents. And with the statewide push to end Veteran homelessness in recent years, MACV was his first choice.
The partnership started informally. When PSS had a vacant unit, Asher reached out to Colleen Salinas, Metro Landlord Engagement Specialist at MACV, before listing it publicly. Colleen, working directly with Veteran households, helps determine if the unit will be a good fit for one of her clients. Then MACV ensures the Veteran household has a variety of support, ranging from access to a social worker, housing vouchers, and even funds to cover moving costs to help ensure the Veteran will be a successful tenant. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the particular vulnerabilities of individuals experiencing homelessness and further underscored the need to ensure that everyone is safely housed.
Veterans experiencing homelessness may struggle to find housing because of criminal backgrounds or rental history. Asher says that MACV’s support for Veterans helps mitigate the perceived risk of housing someone who does not meet PSS typical screening criteria.
“We took a different approach that said ‘we need more tools that decrease the risk of housing individuals with backgrounds. Now it’s a good business move, it’s not just taking a chance,” says Asher.
It’s a win-win-win for MACV, PSS, and Veteran households. PSS saves time and money by filling vacant apartment units quickly, while MACV helps ensure Veterans have a safe, stable home.
“Once they’re housed, they stop experiencing other issues,” says Colleen. “The Vets (in the building) look out for each other and hold each other accountable.”
Now the partnership is more formalized, with several PSS buildings under contract to reach out to MACV before publicly listing a unit. So far, 26 Veteran households have found permanent housing as a result of this partnership, and all of the Vets have been successful tenants.
For Asher, “it’s about getting people housed and keeping them housed. And it gives them an opportunity to build good rental history, so they can choose where they go next if they want to move.” After three years, Asher says he absolutely prefers to lease to households referred from MACV, especially now as the COVID-19 pandemic has made listing units more challenging and time-consuming. “You’d be foolish not to do it. It’s a financially smart decision.”
MACV is encouraging more property owners and managers to partner with them using the same model. And it’s even easier now than when PSS first began partnering with MACV, as last year, state funds have created additional resources to mitigate risk for owners who help Veterans find permanent homes. These include an initial incentive for owners, a vacancy loss fund, and a risk mitigation fund managed by HousingLink.
Shaun Riffe, Development Director at MACV, has an even greater vision for the impact of this work. “If we can figure this out for Veterans,” he says, “we could use this same model for any population with similar backgrounds or housing challenges.”
For now, MACV’s focus is engaging more property owners and managers around the Twin Cities to join the program. But MACV’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Peterson is hopeful that this approach can bring long-term change to how we approach housing.
“When everyone gets together and shares their best capabilities, we can do a lot more and house people differently.”
If you own or manage rental property and are interested in housing a Veteran, please contact Colleen Salinas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Message to all MACV Clients Currently Receiving Services – Call Us!
At Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, we are keenly aware of the struggles that many Veterans are experiencing as we cope with the impacts of the Coronavirus emergency. MACV continues to operate and serve Veterans, and delivering our services through phone and email whenever possible.
While we have assisted you in the past year, if your situation has changed and you are now facing uncertainty or challenges that are putting your housing stability at risk, please don’t wait – reach out to us now. Our housing, employment, and legal services teams are ready to support you as needed.
In addition to our direct services, there are a growing number of benefits and resources becoming available for those most impacted in this time. We are assembling a growing list of resources and information about our availability on our website at COVID-19 Link.
Call our staff today:
For legal support, call VetLaw:
We sincerely hope that you and yours are well, we want to hear from you!
Here is the statewide summary of the availability of County Veteran Service Offices (CVSO), DAV, Minnesota VA, and other Veteran services across the state of Minnesota, with notes on how Veteran and families can receive services and how to contact each office.
Check out these resources and feel free to share with others:
Minnesota COVID-19 Updates: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html
US Dept of Veterans Affairs: www.va.gov/
Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN 23): www.visn23.va.gov/
Area VA Medical Centers:
• Fargo VA Health Care System: www.fargo.va.gov/
• Minneapolis VA Health Care System: www.minneapolis.va.gov/
• St. Cloud VA Health Care System: www.stcloud.va.gov/
• Sioux Falls VA Health Care System: www.siouxfalls.va.gov/
VBA Regional Offices: • Fargo: www.benefits.va.gov/fargo/
• Sioux Falls: www.benefits.va.gov/siouxfalls/
• St. Paul: www.benefits.va.gov/stpaul
• Managing Stress and the Threat of COVID-19: https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf
• COVID-19 and Healthcare Responder Stress: https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/responder_covid19.pdf
• Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With COVID-19: https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/outbreak_factsheet_1.pdf
We are continuing to provide services to Veterans needing support during COVID-19 closures and social distancing measures.
If you need assistance, we are open and our staff is available to support you. Our physical offices are closed to the general public and for in-persons service, but our phones and email are staffed.
We ask that you call or email prior to coming to our offices or scheduled appointment.
Please call main line at 1-833-222-6228 (statewide) and we’ll put you in touch with a case manager in your region. You can also email any question to us directly at email@example.com.
Our legal clinics will be cancelled for the next few weeks, and we will post new dates on our event calendar when can resume safely.
If you have legal questions, call our Vetlaw team at 1-651-200-4750 or you can email the legal team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a limited basis, we will have staff at our offices to provide services to those Veterans without any other means of communication. Our offices in Mankato, Duluth, and St. Paul will be closed for walk-in traffic starting March 27th.
If you or a Veteran or military family you know is experiencing homelessness or may need housing assistance, share this information with your fellow service members. Our MACV team is ready to help.
We are committed to staying connected with Veterans in every community across Minnesota. It is important that we protect your health and the health of our personnel. Our entire staff will be available to assist virtually while we continue to comply with the mitigation strategies set by our state and federal leadership.