Yesterday, various organizations gathered together to pledge to end veteran homelessness, and discuss plans for how to make that happen here in northeast Michigan.
Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) acts as an umbrella to provide resources for getting the homeless proper housing. Homeless Assistance Specialist Candace Morgan says they’re taking a targeted approach this time. “We want to bring about more awareness to the plight of homelessness, with an emphasis on veteran homelessness,” Morgan stated.
In other communities, half the battle is identifying who the homeless are, so that organizations can work to help them. But with communities like Alpena, the framework is already built to get veterans into suitable housing.
“Well Alpena’s doing a great job in knowing who their homeless veterans are. Knowing them, and working with them to get them housed, that’s what it’s all about. Actually being there for our homeless veterans to know we’re there, so that they’ll come in and seek that assistance. And then we’re there immediately to give them the assistance they need,” Morgan says.
But Alpena mayor Matt Waligora, an eleven-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, suggested that the hesitance of veterans to ask for help, can often get in the way of them finding proper housing.
In Alpena, this means taking accountability for veterans on an individual basis. The group talked about looking out for veterans in our own neighborhoods, offering a ride to a doctors appointment when needed, or simply asking if there’s anything they need, can really help to expose those tough questions.
If you’re wondering what you can do for a veteran struggling with housing issues, Candace Morgan recommends getting on the phone with NEMSCA, the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency that works to aid in housing situations.
“Get in touch with NEMSCA. That’s the organization here in this area, they cover about five counties, and they administer a lot of the funds to help homeless veterans migrate from homelessness to being successfully housed.
With winters like this, there is no reason anyone should be without a home, but especially the brave men and women who fought for our country. As Morgan puts it, “they’re our heroes. And we need to give back to them.”