‘Now, I have a home’; End to veteran homelessness reached for Quad Cities

Local News

The City of Davenport and Mayor Mike Matson have announced that Davenport and the Quad-Cities Bi-State Region have been confirmed as achieving an effective end to veteran homelessness, making the region the 80th community in the United States to do this.

Read the letter.

The Quad-Cities Bi-State Region has a system, the capacity and commitment to quickly identify and house veterans experiencing homelessness, a news release says. The system includes an identifying process, the ability to provide shelter immediately to any veteran who wants it, the availability of services-intensive transitional housing in limited instances and the capacity to move veterans quickly into permanent housing.

Executive director of Humility Homes and Services Inc. Ashley Velez said the achievement was a collaboration between many groups (listed below). She said she is grateful to see their hard work pay off.

“Our mission is to end homelessness in the Quad Cities area by providing the support of services. And by saying we’ve been able to put an effective end to services, we’ve truly lived out our mission,” Velez said.

In the past 18 months, the Quad-Cities has seen a 53 percent reduction in veterans experiencing literal homelessness.

“I am very proud of the City of Davenport and our partners like the CRRC, local non-profits and the Veteran Administration’s Karen Abendroth working together to end veteran homelessness,” Matson said. “Davenport is committed to helping our veterans achieve success.”

Matson said it is crucial to get those that served off the street.

“No veteran who served our country should not have a place to stay every night. And for a veteran to be homeless is a tragedy,” Matson said.

A tragedy that was a reality for veteran Bob Sarver just one year ago.

“I’ve lived in vehicles so much,” he said. “I’ve nearly frozen to death.”

He is one of the many veterans that found homes because of local agencies like Humility Homes and Services.

“I had wonderful help, and now, I have a home,” he said.

He said the local initiative is an important one.

“Well it means a lot because I care about my fellow soldiers as well as the need for a place to live,” he said.

Community partners applied for a review of the Quad-Cities Bi-State region’s plan and its benchmarks in July 2020. The review was done by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Matson and the other Quad-City mayors accepted the challenge of ending veteran homelessness less than a year ago, with Davenport passing its proclamation on Nov. 26, 2019. Community partners who work with the homeless, veterans and housing were making a concerted effort during 2019 to collect data and complete a coordinated entry system to meet the criteria and its benchmarks.

“Our Quad Cities VA Homeless Team has had the privilege of continued collaboration with community partners at the local, state and federal levels,” said Karen Abendroth, homeless programs supervisor with the Veterans Administration.

“We would have never been able to reach this point without the dedication and compassion so many have put into their work to ensure every veteran experiencing homelessness has access to safe and affordable housing,” she said. “And while we celebrate today, we must also be mindful that this declaration is not an end state but a milestone that we will continue to build off of to ensure that Veteran homelessness in the Quad Cities remains rare, brief and a one-time occurrence.”

The partners involved in achieving the confirmation are: Humility Homes and Services, Christian Care, Goodwill of the Heartland, Iowa City VA Health Care System- Quad Cities Veteran Homeless Team, Quad Cities Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), Quad Cities Bi-State Region Coordinated Entry Committee led by The Salvation Army and Project Now, Iowa Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC), Illinois – 518 Continuum of Care (CoC), City of Davenport, Greater Metro, Moline Housing Authorities and Community Home Partners (formerly RI PHA), Bridging the Gap, Quad Cities Veteran Outreach Center, Scott County Veteran Service Office and Rock Island County Veteran Assistance Commission, Quad Cities Shelter and Transitional Housing Council, Quad Cities Housing Cluster.

Locally, the City of Davenport provides free CitiBus transportation so that veterans can more easily get to events like medical appointments and job interviews. Housing options have been a barrier, but community partners worked to increase the number of property managers and owners willing to rent to veterans. Cities have also worked to get a homeless liaison police officer to provide numerous referrals.

For more information, contact the VA Community Resource and Referral Center at 563-328-5800 or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-424-3838.

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