Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness joined 10 Minnesota Mayors and public leaders around the country in committing to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Minnesota’s progress on this goal – and the nation’s as a whole – will be measured by the annual Point-in-Time count held each January to identify and count people experiencing homelessness. The next Point-in-Time count will occur on January 28, 2016.
While we await results from the 2016 Point-in-Time count, Minnesota has a good handle on our progress to date and the challenge remaining to reach the end of Veteran homelessness, thanks to the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry. During last year’s Point-in-Time count, we identified 297 Veterans statewide, as part of the largest push to identify Veterans ever conducted. Since then, 23 Veterans we identified have left the state or become incarcerated. In one tragic case, a Veteran on the Registry died before he was housed. The most important news is this: we’ve housed 339 homeless Veterans since January 2015. As a measure of progress, it is significant that more Veterans have been housed to date than were originally identified in the 2015 Point-in-Time count.
On Friday, Oct. 2, CommonBond Communities held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new Upper Post affordable-housing community for homeless Veterans at Fort Snelling. Five historic structures were transformed into 58 units of affordable housing. This new housing opportunity features studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments along with support services for homeless Veterans and their families.
The ceremony included remarks from Deidre Schmidt, President and CEO of CommonBond Communities, Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner of Minnesota Housing, Warren Hanson, President and CEO of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund/MN Equity Fund, Tom Wiffler, COO of UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, Dave St. Peter, President of the Minnesota Twins, Patrick Kelly, Executive Director of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen, and Residents and Veterans Austin Poons and Judy Ganino.
CommonBond Communities, the Midwest’s largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing, recently held a ceremonial groundbreaking event for new Fort Snelling development project. On May 29 the organization invited distinguished guests to celebrate the restoration and construction of a new affordable housing community for Veterans and their families experiencing homelessness. The development project will transform five historic structures into 58 new apartments on the Fort Snelling Upper Post.
Since 1915 Native American Heritage has been publicly recognized. Since the turn of the century November has been declared Native American Heritage Month. It is important to recognize the rich heritage and contributions of Native Americans to the service to our Nations military.
In 2007 Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council to create an outreach program to ensure Native American Veterans are provided professional assistance and advocacy. The Tribal Veteran Service Officer (TVSO) Division has worked since its beginning to provide services including Representation to the Federal VA and the submission of local and State benefits applications on behalf of Native Americans throughout the State of Minnesota.