Veterans and Homelessness
Mayor Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele with MHVI Executive Director Tracey Sperko
For some veterans, returning home can be just as hard as fighting battles overseas. We know many veterans struggle with unemployment, addiction and stress, but did you know an alarming number of veterans experience homelessness? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that more than 62,619 veterans are homeless on a given night.
These national figures represent an encouraging decrease over the years, but in Wisconsin, veteran homelessness has actually increased by 1.6%.
Furthermore, when a veteran is able to get an apartment, through the Veterans Administration, HUD or another program, they are often given the keys and little else. The veteran often has no furniture – not even a bed – no household items, and no resources to purchase them. A pantry may provide food, but the veteran may not even have a can opener or a saucepan.
Milwaukee is fortunate to have a number of excellent veterans’ service organizations, including the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative. The Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative focuses in our community to address homelessness among veterans, specifically through their home support program, furnishing rooms and apartments for veterans when they finally do find a place to live.
The MHVI accepts donations of furniture and household items from individuals and businesses and delivers them to veterans and their families setting up their home. The initiative has furnished more than 500 veterans’ apartments since they began the program in 2009. Three workers – formerly homeless veterans themselves – do pickups and deliveries Wednesday through Saturday.
 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness: Vol. 1 of the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, 15.
 Wisconsin Department of Administration – Division of Housing, The State of Homelessness in Wisconsin 2012: An Annual Report, 7-8.