Breaking down benefits: Homeless services and county funds

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Homelessness is one of the biggest issues for veterans on the local level. Whether utility bills are overdue, or an eviction notice finds its way on your door, the Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families has your back.

"Typically if they are homeless, we will shelter them immediately," said Rod DesJardins, the Housing Specialist at the Community Action Alger Marquette.
The SSVF program is a federal grant under the VA which awards non-profit organizations the funds to serve veterans and their families who are below 50% percentof the median area income, homeless or at risk.

By subcontracting with the Chippewa, Luce, and the Dickinson Iron County Community Agencies, the Community Action Alger Marquette is able to spread the funds in all 15 U.P. counties.

"All the providers up here know each other and any veteran who presents anywhere in the U.P. to any provider, with any need, will be connected to the person who will help that veteran," said DesJardins.

Community Action can provide direct financial support ranging from rent, security deposits along with case management and outreach.

"Anything that links that veteran to housing or keeps that veteran from being evicted and becoming homeless, we can provide through the SSVF," said DesJardins.

CAAM said they can typically find a veteran permanent housing in 14 to 27 days along with a few months of financial support to help them maintain it.

"I’ve had vets who presented and we deemed them eligible the same day and we cut a check for a landlord the same day," said DesJardins. "The grant is important in that it is responsive and flexible at the local level."

CAAM has helped over 300 veterans in the past two years.

However it is not the only way to receive help on the county level. The County Soldier/Sailors Relief Fund is also available to provide emergency services.

"It is a way to get rapid response and we want to get help to a veteran right away when they need it," said George LaBlonde, the Chair of the Marquette County VA Committee, "If they do need food, even paying a medical bill, if it’s important or even a dental bill that’s critical for them to move on, it can cover it."

Other local resources where vets can be referred for assistance are St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, and other local food banks.
"Those are not geared primary toward veterans but they do help," said James Brown a veteran’s service officer of Dickinson County, "We will not see a veteran homeless, if we know."

All veterans’ agencies on the federal, state and local level hope to continuing spreading awareness of the many way veterans can receive the benefits that they fought for and deserve.