Local organizations work to solve veteran homelessness
MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - Mid-Michigan organizations are working to resolve the issue of veteran homelessness.
“Well in 2016, I got a divorce, and I didn’t have no place to go,” said Air Force veteran Keith Koehler.
Koehler said he was facing the prospect of being homeless when his sister told him to reach out to Veterans Affairs (VA). Koehler said he’s glad he did.
“They can figure something out if you’re in need of something, anything, you know, food, clothes, shelter, rides,” he said.
Koehler credits the VA and the Saginaw County Housing Commission for helping him end up at the Mackinaw Heights apartments.
Carly Huffman, homeless program manager at the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw, said over the last eight months of 2022, 238 veterans found permanent housing thanks to the Saginaw Homeless program and Supportive Services for Veteran Families.
“We had a lot of agencies that were providing financial support to our veterans, household goods for our veterans, landlords that were wanting to work with us to rent to veterans,” Huffman said. “It was really just a team effort. Everyone coming together and working hard to find permanent housing for veterans.”
Huffman said in April 2022, the Lutz VA Medical Center was given a target goal of permanently housing 137 veterans by the end of calendar year 2022, as part of the VA Secretary’s 38,000 Veteran Housing Challenge. The goal was exceeded by 173 percent.
“It feels great. Mostly because we know the impact it’s had on our veterans and our community,” Huffman said.
Koehler said he wants those who served our country to know there are people willing to lend a hand.
“So if there’s any veterans out there that is not at the VA Hospital, you should check into it. They are an awesome place to be. They do help,” Koehler said.
Huffman said if veterans need help, they should contact the VA and ask for the homeless program or call 211.
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