This action represents the largest mobilization of staff and volunteers to identify those veterans experiencing homelessness that occurs at any time throughout the year.
Eric I. Grumdahl, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, and Jonelle Glubke, VA Community Resource and Referral Center
If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.
January 22, 2016 | Greetings,
Photo Credit: Robert Adrian Hillman/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for volunteering to participate in Minnesota’s first-ever Veteran Rapid Response Team. The event is being organized by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, with the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, the American Red Cross, the City of Saint Paul, the Minnesota National Guard, and numerous other organizations.
The event is scheduled to occur starting at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 28, 2016 and runs overnight through 3:30 p.m. on Friday, January 29, 2016 at the Cedar Street National Guard Armory, located at 600 Cedar Street in Saint Paul, on the State Capitol complex. It will occur during the annual Point-in-Time count, when volunteers in every community in Minnesota identify and count people experiencing homelessness. Typically, the Point-in-Time count represents the largest mobilization of staff and volunteers to identify those experiencing homelessness that occurs at any time throughout the year.
The purpose of this event is to take advantage of these outreach efforts, so that when anyone finds a Veteran experiencing homelessness, that encounter leads to a housing plan that will rapidly connect that Veteran with housing. To do this, we have a team of dedicated staff who will be working the entire duration of the event to develop housing plans with the Veterans we find. For Veterans in Greater Minnesota, that planning will occur over the phone. For Veterans in the Twin Cities metro area, whenever possible this planning will occur face-to-face.
In the Twin Cities, when a Veteran is found living outdoors or in a place not meant habitation during the Point-in-Time count, the teams conducting the count will invite that Veteran to come to the Armory so that they can have a warm bed, a warm meal, and talk with people who can find a housing solution that works for them. We will also have staff deployed at numerous shelter locations. When a Veteran is found and agrees to come inside, drivers organized by DAV and VA will be dispatched to the Veteran’s location, to increase the likelihood that the Veterans we find accept the offer. While at the Armory, we’ll establish a housing plan for every Veteran we find. We find that once we’ve established a housing plan, most Veterans are housed within 120 days – and often sooner. Having a housing plan ensures that every Veteran is on a path to housing.
As you can imagine, there are numerous roles we need volunteers to play for this event to be successful. That includes checking Veterans in at the event, serving warm meals, distributing bedding and managing sleeping arrangements, and assisting Veterans with transportation.
Here are some critical details for every volunteer to know:
- We will be indoors. Except for drivers and their navigators, all volunteer roles will be on the drill floor at the Armory, a warm and dry location. Thanks to the City of Saint Paul, parking will be available adjacent to the Armory for the duration of the event.
- Expect the unexpected. This is the first time we have attempted this approach to engaging Veterans experiencing homelessness. We may be incredibly busy during your shift or not. Please be prepared for either scenario, or anything in between.
- We need your information. Parking and other critical details about the event will be provided to every volunteer, but only if we have your email address. Please be sure to complete this short survey as soon as possible: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KHWBFM7
We value your commitment. We know that there are many ways you could choose to spend your time. Thank you for choosing to spend it helping Veterans experiencing homelessness get reconnected with their homes.
We’ve made remarkable progress ending Veteran homelessness in Minnesota. This event will bring us even closer to that goal. Thank you for your commitment. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Eric and Jonelle
Eric I. Grumdahl, Special Advisor on Ending Veteran Homelessness
Minnesota Office to Prevent and End Homelessness
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Service Building | 20 West 12th Street, 2nd Floor | Saint Paul, MN 55155
651.201.8230 desk | 651.666.9779 mobile | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonelle Glubke, LICSW, Program Director
Mental Health - Homeless Programs (MHHP) and
VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC)
Minneapolis VA Health Care System (MVAHCS)
Main CRRC: 612-313-3240