UWNEMN receives ongoing referrals from local service providers regarding veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Short-term solutions such as hotel stays have been the answer thus far, but with the numbers rising and area shelters constantly full, it is costly for our organization to continually offer this as a temporary solution. Based on the number of referrals, we began exploring the option of purchasing a home that would be used as transitional housing.
Based on our relationship with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV), we decided to reach out to them to help establish a Structured Independent Living House on the Iron Range similar to the homes they operate in other parts of the state. MACV provides a comprehensive program and supportive services to homeless veterans in three primary focus areas: housing, employment and civil legal concerns. Their mission is to end veteran homelessness in Minnesota. Currently, MACV maintains 11 structured transitional housing units for veterans, and 22 units of permanent housing with supportive services for disabled veterans in Duluth, Mankato, and the Metro area. Homes are clean, safe and drug free. Supportive services for MACV programs provide chemical dependency and mental health treatment, crisis intervention, life skills training, educational services, family support, transportation, employment services, money management training and/or counseling, re-establishment of socialization skills, training to increase basic living skills and/or income to prepare for obtaining and retaining permanent housing. Often a transitional housing option is a necessary step on a veteran’s path to long-term sustainable housing. MACV case managers work with each veteran to connect them to additional services to meet their needs.
It took UWNEMN almost a year to find “the right place” but in March of 2018, we purchased a 4 bedroom/3 bath home located in Hibbing which will allow for up to four single veterans to reside in the home, offering stability and case management services from MACV employees and other providers as needed. Currently, the community of Hibbing has more services available to veterans than any other on the Iron Range which is why the location of this home is ideal. Additional providers include the VA Clinic, County Veteran Service office, Veterans Higher Education Coordinator at the Hibbing Community College, and a Veterans Employment Representative at the MN Workforce Center. In addition, the Salvation Army serves meals to the community five nights a week and Project Care provides additional medical care for free. The majority of the facilities are within walking or biking distance from the home and for those that aren’t, buses are available in the event that a veteran does not have adequate transportation of their own. The United for Veterans/MACV transitional home is the first of its kind on the Iron Range. It will be open for veterans starting on June 1st; veterans will be able to live in the home for up to 24 months before transitioning to permanent housing.
UWNEMN used funds raised from Rampage at the Ridge to purchase the home and cover the repairs which cost just over $93,000. We were fortunate to receive a $20,000 contribution from the Owens Family Charitable Foundation to help offset the purchase price. Before the home was ready for use, it required $8,800 in licensed repairs. We also relied on volunteers from Minnesota Power and Delta Air Lines, as well as United for Veterans committee members, to help with landscaping, cleaning of the home and furnishing.
UWNEMN is seeking new household items to be donated to help furnish the home and to prepare kits for veterans to take with them when they transition to permanent housing. Registries have been set up at Target and Walmart. Items can be shipped directly to or dropped off at UWNEMN at 229 W Lake Street in Chisholm MN 55719.