Two midwest cities are stepping up and helping out veterans that don’t have homes.
On Sept. 16, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to end homelessness among former service members living in the Windy City by 2015. A $5 million program providing housing and other assistance to veterans will be funded through a federal grant, along with $800,000 from the city’s 2015 budget. Chicago will also donate four acres of land for new housing facilities.
In a press conference, Emanuel said, “By the end of 2015, there will not be a homeless veteran in the city of Chicago.”
Emanuel spoke at Hope Manor I, a supportive housing complex for veterans that provides free places to live for up to 50 homeless veterans and affordable housing for 30 more veterans. On the first floor of the building, veterans and their families can take job-training and employment-readiness classes, learn how to use a computer, attend peer support groups and benefit from counseling and case management services. Residents can also gather in a multi-purpose room designed to foster a sense of community among them.
During the press conference, Emanuel announced that a new center Hope Manor for Families — a facility that will accommodate entire families — will open soon.
Since Hope Manor I opened, two other similar facilities have started welcoming needy vets: Hope Manor II and Veterans New Beginnings. According to Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago took a census of its homeless veterans in January — a “point-in-time count” measuring how many people were out on the streets on one night. The researchers found 721 homeless veterans — 465 lived in shelters and 256 had no place to call home.
The same day that Emanuel announced this program, another Midwestern mayor publicly committed his administration to the cause of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015: Mayor Carl Brewer of Wichita, Kansas. KSN TV reports that Brewer announced at a City Council meeting, “Veteran homelessness is not an intractable social problem that can’t be solved”
“By focusing our resources and renewing our communities’ commitment to this issue, we can end veteran homelessness in our city and our country. I’m proud to join mayors across the country as we work toward the important goal of honoring the service of our veterans by making sure all of them have a home to call their own,” said Brewer.
According to KSN TV, since 2010 when the federal government launched Opening Doors (a comprehensive plan to end homelessness) homelessness among veterans in America has decreased by 24 percent.
If the plans of these mayors succeed, Chicago and Wichita could join Phoenix, Los Angeles and other cities who are striving to make homelessness among veterans a thing of the past.
MORE: Giving Homeless Vets A Helping Hand — And A New Uniform