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County Celebrates Opening of Veterans Housing Project

Post Date:01/13/2020 3:00 PM

A creative collaboration between Carver County, the Carver County Community Development Agency, the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans and community leaders brings four units of veterans housing to the County.

The project is the brainchild of County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik and County Veteran Services Officer Dan Tengwall. The CDA took the idea and ran with it, leading to a four-unit project with 3 two-bedroom units and 1 three-bedroom unit for veterans in housing crisis. The Chaska Lions Club sponsored the renovation of the three-bedroom unit. Approval of the first veteran to occupy this unit is complete.

“The Army warrior is a set of principles by which every soldier lives their lives. All United States military services have the same ‘Do not leave anyone behind’ mentality,” Maluchnik said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We in Carver County will strive not to leave our veterans behind. They answered the call for our defense—we must assist with ensuring that they and their families are sheltered.”

The purchase and renovation partnership between CDA and MACV made the project into a reality. Those two entities applied for further grants to fund renovations of the remaining three units.

“The CDA is excited to expand our partnerships and work closely with MACV towards Governor Walz’s goal of ending veteran homelessness in Minnesota,” stated Sarah Carlson, chair of the CDA board of commissioners.

When asked why veterans are disproportionally represented in the homeless population, MACV’s Jon Lovald said it’s related to the military instilling an attitude of self-reliance. “No matter how long you served in the military, the one thing you are taught is to never quit, to fight through any obstacle and watch out for your battle buddy,” he said. That translates into some veterans not admitting they need help fighting through this obstacle—that asking for help might feel like quitting, Lovald noted. Other veterans believe that any help available is better directed at a fellow veteran in a worse circumstance than themselves.

“We’re proud to be working with Carver County and its CDA to create a new opportunity for veterans in need,” he said. “This project serves as the example for other communities to follow. We’re prepared to partner with other counties, cities or organizations that wants to help provide stable housing for veterans in Minnesota.”

Carver County Veterans Services serves as the lead on making sure the residents have access to earned health-care benefits, veterans’ benefits, educational benefits and navigating the County’s veterans court (if necessary). Other County resources, such as CareerForce and income support, are available at the nearby Government Center where Veterans Services are located.

“The collaboration to turn this idea into a reality is an excellent model on how we can all help end veterans’ homelessness in our state,” Tengwall said. He noted that his office typically receives 10-12 calls per month from County veterans experiencing a housing crisis. “To address this issue directly, with a resource right in our community, is the best-case scenario,” he said.

This new project for veterans adds to the existing three units owned and managed by the CDA to support veterans with housing issues in the County. This helps the State’s goal, set by current Governor and veteran Tim Walz, to effectively end homelessness among veterans. Only three other states have accomplished this goal. The State has cut the number of homeless veterans in half the past five years, yet nearly 300 veterans remain homeless.

“It’s no longer a marathon when it relates to this issue, it’s a sprint,” Larry Herke, Commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Veterans Affairs, said. “They’ve been in a car, they’ve been under a bridge, they’ve been on a neighbor’s or friend’s couch, and they’ve come to us. They’ve seen the success we’ve had this year, and they’ve put their faith in us to try and help them.”

Incentive and mitigation funds exist for landlords wanting to open their doors to Veterans with barriers to housing. Interested landlords can visit HousingLink's website or call 866-522-2827 to list current or upcoming vacancies on the Veterans-exclusive vacancy list

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