This month we are featuring stories from the front lines of Catholic Charities programs and partners, highlighting specific populations who experience disproportionately high rates of housing insecurity in Minnesota:
Veteran Services at Catholic Charities
Every week at the Saint Paul Opportunity Center, veteran service providers demonstrate just how many resources are available to veterans experiencing homelessness. “This space helps veteran organizations connect with the community who is here,” says Kristin Nord, Ramsey County Veteran Services Social Worker. “I want people to understand how many organizations exist and can cooperate in different ways.”
When most people think about veteran services and benefits, they think of the United States Department of Veteran Affairs—commonly known as the VA. This is true for civilians, active military, and veterans alike. While the VA offers a multitude of services, there are other agencies in Minnesota that also deliver a huge impact.
What Functional Zero Really Means
Christine Bridgeman, Outreach Program Manager for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), explains how the state has nearly achieved “functional zero” for veterans, “meaning in all counties of the state except for Hennepin and Ramsey County, we will be able to house a veteran within 90 days of finding them.”
This is thanks to collaborative efforts between agencies like MACV, the VA, Catholic Charities, and the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs. Ramsey and Hennepin Counties are working towards functional zero for veterans, but the lack of affordable housing and funding for subsidized housing currently stand in the way. “There is some low-income housing, but most have one year waiting lists,” Kristin explains. “We need more subsidized housing built for veterans and the general population alike.”
SO WHAT CAN COMMUNITY MEMBERS DO TO HELP?
1. Sign up for Action Alerts: Get notifications when issues that impact Veterans experiencing homelessness are being discussed at the Capitol. Our Action Alerts automatically match you with your elected officials, notify you when your voice is needed, and you can let them know you care with a few clicks!
2. Contact Us About Custom Volunteer Opportunities: We welcome you to reach out if you’re interested in volunteering to support the lives of Veterans.
3. Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter for stories like this sent to your inbox, along with special opportunities to get involved!
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