UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – November is Homelessness Awareness Month and November 11 is Veterans Day this year. While these men and women laid their lives on the line for our county, veteran homelessness remains to be a problem in Upper Peninsula and across Michigan.
According to the Homeless Management Information System, there is an estimated 2,443 veterans experiencing homelessness in Michigan. In the U.P., there are approximately 91 homeless veterans living in the U.P. Marquette County has the most homeless veterans with 27, followed by Dickinson County with 21. Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency’s (MMVA) Women Veterans and Special Populations Coordinator Erika Hoover explains why this is still an issue in our state and what factors play into it.
“Lack of affordable housing is probably number one. And that supply I think a lot of things, you know, folks not identifying as veterans right away or not identifying and entering the system to for services,” said Hoover. “So, especially women veterans or women veterans don’t identify as veterans and so once they finally do identify as veterans, they’ve, you know, they’ve gone down the rabbit hole a little too long. And so, it’s just, it’s a combination of all kinds of things mental health, substance use, you know, there’s all sorts of reasons why veterans experienced homelessness, and all sorts of resources available. as well. And so, it’s just it’s just understanding and knowing what is and I hope this reaches folks to so they can know where to reach out to get more resources.”
The state of Michigan is investing $2 million this year to combat the problem through the Michigan Veteran Homelessness Prevention Grant.
“This is the first year the MVAA has ever been able to do anything like that, and we’re giving out 13 grants and $150,000 each and while we know that that’s not a ton of money, that’s a lot spread out through the state,” said Hoover. “And we’re hoping to show that that need is there. And we had a lot of folks apply. And so, we had way more apply and way more than grants we were able to give and so we’re hoping that with that data and with the things in the programming that’s innovative that comes out of that grant that will be able to lobby for additional funding from our legislators and be able to do a lot more good in our communities where folks are.”
Community Action Alger-Marquette (CAAM) provides services for veterans across the U.P. who are experiencing homeless. The agency is currently assisting 83 veterans and their families in its program. CAAM offers Supportive Services for Veterans Families, which is a Rapid Re-Housing and Homelessness Prevention program serving active-duty military veterans and their families who are below 50 percent of the Area Median Income and are either homeless, or at-risk of becoming homeless. This service is provided in all 15 U.P. counties.
For veterans in Alger, Baraga, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Marquette, Menominee & Schoolcraft Counties, please call 1-800-562-9762 Ext. 207. For veterans in Chippewa, Luce & Mackinac Counties, please call 906-632-3363. For veterans in Gogebic & Ontonagon Counties, please call 906-667-0283.
CAAM Director of Veteran Services Katie Graham says veterans can call one of these numbers and will go through an assessment. From there, they will be put in contact with a case manager who will help them with housing and getting connected to other available resources that will help with housing stability. If a veteran does not qualify for the SSVF program, CAAM works closely with community partners across the Upper Peninsula to make sure that the veteran is getting connected to the assistance they need.
You can also call 1-800-MICH-VET or visit Michigan.gov/MVAA for assistance.