Homelessness among veterans is a big problem. So the fact that an entire Minnesota community can officially say it has zero homeless vets is a huge deal.
The Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs announced Tuesday that 18 counties in southwestern Minnesota have cleared their housing waiting lists for homeless veterans.
It's only the 40th community in the whole country to do that – the first in Minnesota.
Cathy ten Broeke, state director to prevent and end homelessness, said the counties established “a strategic plan that prevents Veterans homelessness from occurring whenever possible."
And if a veteran does become homeless, it's rare, brief, and doesn't reoccur.
What MN is doing about homeless veterans
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, this accomplishment is part of a statewide goal to make sure no veterans go homeless in Minnesota.
The department launched a Homeless Veterans Registry in 2014. It's focused on housing all Minnesota veterans who don't otherwise have a place to live.
Since that December, Minnesota has housed 856 veterans. Currently, the state knows of another 196 veterans who still don't have a place to live.
If you know of a homeless veteran, you can connect them with services by calling 1-888-546-5838.
Homeless veteran facts
Almost all are male, with 45 percent being African American or Hispanic.
Additionally, about 1.4 million other veterans face poverty, lack of support networks, and poor living conditions – putting them at risk for homelessness later on.