ST. PAUL, MN (STL.News) This Veterans Day, Governor Tim Walz, a 24-year veteran of the National Guard, announced that five suburban metro area counties have received federal designation for ending veteran homelessness. The designation, given to the Suburban Metro Area Continuum of Care (SMAC), includes Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Scott, and Washington counties.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determined that the five counties served by SMAC have effectively ended homelessness among veterans, becoming the sixth of 10 jurisdictions in the state of Minnesota to do so. The West Central, Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast Continuums of Care previously declared an end to veteran homelessness in 2017 and 2018. The River Valleys (Southeast) Continuum of Care declared the milestone in 2019. The remaining four Continuums of Care around the state continue to work toward the same goal.
“Becoming the fourth state in the country to end veteran homelessness has been a priority of our Administration since day one. Today’s announcement, on a day we honor all veterans, is a major accomplishment toward that goal,” said Governor Walz. “Minnesota veterans have served and sacrificed to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. Once they complete their service, we should ensure they have a safe place to call home.”
“We are grateful for the service, sacrifice, and bravery of our warriors,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “This Veterans Day, as we honor all those who have served, we commit to providing our veterans the best care and services available when they return home.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that ending veteran homelessness is achievable when there is a plan and strong partnerships,” said Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke. “Together we can change lives and bring our veterans ‘all the way home.’”
The progress demonstrated through this announcement is the direct result of joint efforts across the state. SMAC is comprised of a broad coalition of stakeholders, including the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA), Minnesota Housing, the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness (MICH), Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), County Veterans Service Officers, emergency shelters and a number of private, public, and non-profit organizations.
“ We are confident that the infrastructure and systems you have built will ensure that any veteran experiencing homelessness in the region will get the support they need to quickly obtain a permanent home, ” said Beverly Ebersold, Director of National Initiatives for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
“A key to ending veteran homelessness is the partnership with landlords willing to open their doors,” noted Jennifer Ho, Minnesota Housing Commissioner. “Landlords have stepped up in the suburban metro counties and are an inspiration to others that helping a veteran find a new home can be both rewarding and successful.”
More than 2,100 previously homeless veterans have been housed since this initiative began in 2014. Minnesota housed more than 500 veterans in 2019 alone, the highest number ever housed in one year.
Minnesota’s unique statewide Homeless Veterans Registry is key to housing homeless veterans. The Registry has accelerated Minnesota’s progress toward the goal of ending veteran homelessness by creating individual housing plans based on each veteran’s unique challenges and situation. Once on the Registry, veterans experiencing homelessness are typically housed within four months.
As of November 10, the Registry lists 308 veterans by name who are experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. Research demonstrates that the most lasting solutions are personalized for each individual or family on a Veteran-by-Veteran basis.