Adjusting to civilian life can be difficult for veterans, whether they’ve served overseas or in a domestic assignment.
Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) has teamed with D&O Properties, a Central Illinois-based contractor on the North Street Commons project in Decatur. The goal is to provide housing to those who have served in the military, along with support services ranging from treatment of mental illness and substance abuse to vocational training. D&O saw a need to assist the large population of homeless veterans in Decatur and asked LCFS to help.
Pictured above, housing tenant Jonathan McGee.
This partnership is a good one for veterans since according to LCFS President & CEO Mike Bertrand, this program allows LCFS to take “our core competency of case management and (apply) it in a different arena.” D&O’s housing expertise also plays a key role.
There are so many barriers for the chronically homeless, especially vets, that a program like this one is critical. LCFS’ involvement helps bring hope. According to LCFS’ Julie Mavec, the case manager overseeing the program, “People need to think about those vets who are homeless,” and often also have to deal with drug addiction and mental illness.
There are 16 housing units available in the program (which began in 2011); 12 are apartments (8- 1 bedroom, 4- 2 bedroom) and four are homes (2 bedroom). The eight single apartments are full and there is a waiting list because of the large number of single veterans living on the streets. Those applying for the two bedroom units need a dependent per the Decatur Housing Authority.
Pictured above, one of the housing options for veterans.
Typically those who apply for the housing program are single male veterans who are on disability or waiting for disability claims; or have had their unemployment benefits run out as jobs are scarce in Decatur. That is the largest group applying at this time, resulting in a long waiting list for the single units.
LCFS’ efforts to help veterans and their families also go beyond the housing program. The Coalition for Veterans Concerns is a partnership of Macon County (IL) organizations (including LCFS) working with homeless vets and other vets in need.
The support services provided by LCFS are key to helping veterans and their families deal with homelessness and its many related problems. According to Julie Mavec, homeless veterans have historically been underserved; in response, “We provide services and encouragement and hope.” A former program participant and Navy veteran confirmed the need for the program, “It gives you hope, knowing that anything is possible once you take that first step. It puts a lot of hope in these guys. They really need it.” For so many veterans, the program services are critical in helping them get back on their feet.
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