by Ursula Watson – The Detroit News
Warren— A newly opened two-story housing facility for veterans will undergo much needed improvements after receiving $160,000 in grants.
During a Tuesday dedication, the nonprofit Volunteers of America Michigan was awarded grants — $150,000 by the Home Depot Foundation and $10,000 from Masco Foundation — to make upgrades to its Safe Haven for Veterans at 3940 Toepfer.
Patrick Patterson, executive vice president of Volunteers of America Michigan, said a key portion of its services are geared toward chronically homeless and disabled veterans.
“If you have a severe disability you are likely to be on the streets unless you have a real good family or a lawyer,” Patterson said. “Veterans make up 15 percent of the total number of homeless in the county.”
Roderick Hudson has been a Safe Haven for Veterans resident for more than a month. He grew up in Detroit and served in the Navy in the ’70s. Hudson, 59, became homeless in 2011. After a bout with pneumonia and a stay at the hospital, he was put in contact with a social worker.
“I couldn’t ask for a better place,” he said of Safe Haven. “It’s not like you have to sleep with 10 people and have to worry. It is an excellent program. I have never met such a concerned staff. They take the time to really address the issues that you are dealing with.”
The grant money will be used to remodel the 1960s building, which was bought by the nonprofit in November. Improvements to the 16 apartments with room for 18 beds will include new flooring, counter tops, window treatments and heating.
Each apartment will be equipped with a kitchen and group meals will be provided.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, Volunteers of America Michigan placed 224 homeless veterans in jobs. It also enrolled 169 very low-income veteran families in homeless prevention programs with 106 families finding permanent housing between Oct. 31, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
An affiliate of Volunteers of America, Volunteers of America Michigan provides 132 beds of transitional housing for homeless veterans across the state. Nearly 80 percent who complete programs leave with some income and keys to their own home.
Patterson said Volunteers of America Michigan is the largest private provider of veteran services in the state, which is bittersweet, he said, since no one who has served his country should face such challenges.
“When you are deployed and go off to war many veterans come back with obvious trauma from combat,” he said. “There’s also a sense of separation from the world that tends to complicate people’s lives such as loss of family, jobs, a place of being especially if you have had multiple deployments.”
Hudson said many veterans don’t take advantage of such programs because they don’t know about them or doubt that such a program will help.
“Now things are different, the public is really acknowledging us now,” he said. “They found out they just left us out here. Some of us make wrong decisions, get caught up on drugs and addiction takes you to a point where you don’t care anymore. There is help out there. You have to want that. I had to want it this time.”