Paying down the vet debt with safe shelter: editorial (Plain Dealer)

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Paying down the vet debt with safe shelter: editorial (Plain Dealer)

November 11, 2015 [Plain Dealer]

Veterans should be honored, not homeless. None of them should be haunting the streets, or soup kitchens. They risked their lives, limbs and mental health to secure what we take for granted.

They have earned the best that we can offer.

Let’s start with a roof over their heads — that basic building block of American achievement; a place they can call home, an anchor that grounds them and – even better – provides a base from which to face the future.

Cue the Cuyahoga Land Bank and the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.

Together, these two local nonprofits – one with homes without people and the other with people without homes — have created the Veterans’ Affordable Housing Initiative. Its pilot project – a six-bedroom duplex in East Cleveland – currently houses three male veterans, according to Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry spokeswoman Megan Crow Brauer.

The ministry’s Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside Avenue is screening additional candidates, some of whom currently live in the shelter, or have been referred by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other community organizations, Brauer said.

The East Cleveland property — which was given to the ministry by the land bank — required $44,000 in renovations, said Dennis Roberts, director of programs and property management for the Land Bank.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry was able to raise $26,000 through donations, and the Land Bank loaned the remaining $18,000 at no interest, Roberts said.

“We’re looking to make unproductive properties productive,” Roberts said.

What better use for those properties than to house heroes.