MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The River Valley Continuum of Care was joined by Governor Tim Walz for a big announcement at Minnesota Valley Action Council.
Since 2014, efforts statewide have resulted in housing 1,813 previously homeless veterans.
Thursday morning, Governor Walz announced that The River Valley Continuum of Care has declared an end to veteran homelessness in the area they serve.
The River Valley CoC consists of 20 counties in southcentral and southeast Minnesota and is the 5th of 10 CoC's in the state to make this declaration.
A big boost has been credited to Minnesota's unique statewide Homeless Veterans Registry.
It creates individual housing plans based on each veteran's unique challenges.
Organizers say veterans are typically housed within four months of registering.
Now the challenge? Tangible housing.
“The number one thing that we need to do is get the production of housing up, but we need to also make sure that it is affordable at the wages that people own,” said Jennifer Ho, commissioner of Minnesota Housing. “Right now the cost of housing is going up and wages are staying pretty flat. That just means the cost of housing is getting further and further out of reach.”
Jodi Donely's husband Theodore served in Desert Storm.
After coming home, the couple went through many trials and tribulations including health problems, problems of homelessness and relationship problems.
Most of that changed after coming to Mankato, getting on the registry and someone believing in them.
“Our landlord took a chance on us. We were coming from paying $400/month to paying now $1,190 in rent," said Mankato resident Jodi Donely. "That’s three times the jump and she didn’t know if we could do it. She had to take a risk. She had to take a chance on me and Ted and she did. It’s payed off for her. We’ve paid our rent, our bills are paid and we’re stable.”
In total, three states and 71 communities have ended veteran homelessness.
With Minnesota looking to become the fourth, the governor is confident all 10 CoC’s in the state will eventually meet the goal.
"Very. I say that again as I use that story my wife always says that hope is the most powerful word in the universe but it isn't a strategy or plan. We have a strategy. We have a plan. We have a resiliency. Our sense of urgency remains the same, every veteran off the streets."
As of July 8th, the Registry lists 216 veterans who are experiencing homelessness in Minnesota.
Please visit this website if you know a veteran dealing with homelessness.