Services improve for homeless vets in Hennepin Co.by Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Federal data shows the number of homeless veterans in Hennepin County dropped by 33 percent last year.
The data released by Hennepin County Thursday was collected by the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development in a one-day shelter and street census. The census counted 201 veterans in homeless shelters in 2010. That number fell to 143 homeless veterans last year.
The county exceeds the national average in housing homeless veterans. Nationwide, the number of homeless veterans dropped by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Minneapolis VA homelessness coordinator Jonelle Draughn said the numbers reflect the trend she's seen firsthand in the last year.
"We certainly see veterans obtaining permanent housing and ending that cycle of homelessness for themselves every day," Draughn said. "I believe that it does represent what's going on."
Better cooperation between Hennepin County nonprofits and the federal housing and veterans agencies made the difference, Draughn said.
"Agencies helping with furniture costs, with downpayments, all of those things, really have made this a success."
More than 200 new federal housing vouchers for homeless veterans also helped, Draughn said.