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The work of the Housing First Minnesota Foundation/HomeAid Twin Cities over the past 25 years has had a life-changing impact on the lives of hundreds of individuals as they work to end homelessness in Minnesota.
The Foundation’s collaborative efforts with shelter providers to help move their clients into stable housing are more relevant today than ever before. The recent Housing for Heroes projects illustrate the importance of this work and will serve as an important steppingstone in veterans’ lives to help them transition from homelessness to supportive transitional housing to permanent housing.
Ed Williams is a case manager with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) and is a first-hand witness to the dramatic effect stable housing has on the lives of veterans in need of a restart in life.
“Housing first. That’s one of the major barriers that needs to be removed so that veterans can begin the process to stabilizing their life,” Williams says. “We facilitate them being here and giving them that safe environment to grow in.”
MACV provides housing, employment, and legal services to veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless across the state of Minnesota. Williams got his start with MACV through a friend who was transitioning out of the role. Although Williams isn’t a veteran himself, he came from a family of veterans and had the experience and potential to do great things through the program.
Williams has now been with MACV for more than 15 years, and he is honored by the opportunity to serve those who have served our country. Many of the veterans that are living in transitional housing are coming out of incarceration or treatment, and the opportunity to feel safe and secure while accepting support allows them to grow and forge important relationships.
“It’s easy to think of homeless people as disenfranchised or people that have made horrible mistakes, but you would never think that our veterans would be a part of that population, or the leading number in that population,” explains Williams. “This is that opportunity for them to have two lives in one lifetime.”
Williams emphasized how working with our veterans has reinforced the need for selflessness and has taught him many lessons along the way.
“I believe when you’re talking, you’re teaching, and when you’re listening, you’re learning,” he says. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t learn just as much from them as I feel that I’m giving.”
But the need is still there. With two homes for veterans completed and a third in progress, the Housing First Minnesota Foundation is committed to ending veteran homelessness in Minnesota. By building and restoring shelter facilities for those in our community who are experiencing homelessness, the Foundation can greatly impact more lives for many years to come.
“It’s important to build and make housing available because the need is still there. We’ve still got veterans that are out there,” Williams explains. “We can never give back enough for the sacrifices they and their families have given for our freedoms and our liberties.”
DONATE TO THE HOUSING FIRST MINNESOTA FOUNDATION: TEXT GIVETODAY TO 52182