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TUESDAY, May 7 — As homeless veterans continue to find reliable housing options in Ingham County, local officials are earning some national recognition for their work to “effectively end” the issue in Greater Lansing.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs in March formally recognized the Capitol Region Housing Collaborative for its efforts to find new housing opportunities for homeless veterans in Lansing, East Lansing and Ingham County.
Dozens of community partners gathered at Lansing City Hall to celebrate the distinction this afternoon. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said it’s a “big deal,” but he knows the problem hasn’t been entirely fixed in Lansing.
“I assure you that we are well-aware there are still homeless veterans living in our community,” Schor said. “We also know that the systems that we put in place work. That’s what this recognition means. Our Continuum of Care has met the national criteria and benchmarks to demonstrate that we have these systems in place to identify and quickly house homeless veterans, so that veteran homelessness will be rare, brief and not recurring.”
The housing collaborative is the third organization in Michigan to achieve the formal designation, officials said. Joan Jackson Johnson, who directs Lansing’s Human Relations and Community Services Department, said it was only made possible through several years of careful review and an increased level of collaboration in the community.
“We owe it to our veterans to help them find a place to call home,” Schor added.
Twenty-eight homeless veterans lived in Lansing earlier this year, marking a 64% reduction from when the city accepted President Barack Obama’s 2014 “Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness,” Schor said. The latest count tallied only 20 homeless veterans. Services are already on the way to help alleviate their situations.
“Ending veteran homelessness is not a single event in time,” added Kelly Rose, chairwoman of the Michigan Interagency Council on Homelessness. “It’s a deliberate effort made to achieve the goal and continued followed efforts to make sure progress toward achieving it is maintained. Our goal is a systematic end to homelessness.”
After Lansing accepted Obama’s challenge, a committee was formed to identify service gaps, assemble a list of local homeless veterans and secure housing for them as quickly as possible. And it’s working. Recent data also shows a 50% reduction in homeless veterans in Ingham County.