An important milestone was recently reached in helping end homelessness among military veterans in Minnesota with the opening of Veterans East, a new 100-unit apartment community adjacent to the Veterans Hospital near Fort Snelling in Minneapolis. Funding for the project was provided by many public-private partners, including UnitedHealth Group, the largest private investor in the development.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony at Veterans East brought together more than 125 people to mark the opening, including veteran’s advocates, project partners, new residents, elected officials and representatives. During the ceremony, new residents, many of whom have struggled with homelessness, thanked community leaders and development partners for helping bring Veterans East to the city, and for providing new hope for struggling veterans through greater access to affordable housing, health services, education and job training programs.
“It’s hard to believe that I finally have a place of my own,” said Nathaniel Green, a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy for six years. “I appreciate all who have made this possible and for caring about veterans like me. This is a new start that has taken a heavy burden off my shoulders, helping bring stability and hope into my life.”
UnitedHealthcare and Optum employees, many of whom are veterans, assembled and donated 100 “welcome home baskets” to the veterans moving into their new homes. The gifts included basic essentials including household items and personal hygiene products to help make their move easier.
According to the latest available figures, efforts to reduce veteran homelessness in Minnesota are having a positive impact. Since 2010, homelessness among Minnesota’s veteran population has been reduced by 61 percent.