Veterans and Homelessness
Mayor Barrett with Kirsten Sobieski, Executive Director of MHVI, the Donovan family and County Executive Chris Abele
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 57,849 veterans are homeless on a given night. In 2013, it was estimated that there were 552 homeless veterans in the State of Wisconsin.
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 does not have 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 on 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 Home Support program has helped furnish the apartments of more than 300 veterans a year since it began in 2009. In 2014, MHVI has moved in at least one veteran per day for every day they are open and at least 10 families have received assistance with setting up their home each month. Three workers – formerly homeless veterans themselves – do pickups and deliveries Wednesday through Saturday.
 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2013 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress, 15.