Will County officials and leaders in veterans affairs announced July 11 that partnerships have set up area veterans with permanent housing to put an end to homelessness.
The county became the 50th community across the nation to satisfy this aim, and it is joining a list that boasts of big cities, like Houston and Philadelphia, and entire states like, Delaware and Virginia.
“This is a great day in Will County as we celebrate our work toward ending homelessness amongst our veterans,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Sr., said. “I am proud of the partnership we have with both our local and federal partners in the Will County Continuum of Care, which helps identify and find permanent housing for our veterans.”
To date, more than 40,000 veterans reside in Will County.
United States Interagency Council Homelessness Executive Director Matthew Doherty sent a letter to Will County officials acknowledging the efforts put in to address the issue. He commended the infrastructure and systems the Will County Continuum of Care has built to ensure veterans in Will County quickly get the support needed to secure housing.
“Through partnerships and perseverance, Will County has become the 50th community in the nation to end veteran homelessness,” Doherty said in a news release. “The lessons we learn from communities like Will County are helping us end homelessness for veterans nationwide.”
The secret to the county’s success in putting an end to veteran homelessness is collaboration, said Kris White, executive director of Will County Center for Community Concerns.
“We really are fortunate in Will County that agencies just work together,” she said. “They meet monthly. They have what they call a ‘Buck for the Veterans.’ They have what they call a ‘by name list,’ and with that, they sit and say, ‘OK, I have this person, and he’s looking for permanent housing.’ Somebody else is saying, ‘I have room and housing.’”
The Will County Continuum of Care utilizes a collaborative approach to comprehensive outreach and practices housing first. To expedite access to housing placement, a coordinated assessment system was introduced to support veterans in acquiring permanent housing within an average of 58 days.
Since January 2016, local and federal agencies have worked together to secure housing for more than 100 veterans.
Ronald Vann, of Joliet, took a moment to revel in the county’s accomplishment. He had spent more than 25 years as a homeless veteran.
Vann wanted to thank the various systems of support in the community for helping him to secure permanent housing.
“I didn’t have no means to try to fix it,” he said, referring to his past history of homelessness.
Vann, who served in the Army until 1979, said he sought out every opportunity available to get support.
Vann started his recovery by going through the Veterans Assistance Commission. There, he was transported to Edward Hines Jr. VA.
Additionally, he utilized supports at Safe Haven, Morning Star Mission, and Family and Friends.
“This September will be my first year in my own place,” Vann said.