Homeless Prevention - Milwaukee VA Medical Center
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Milwaukee VA Medical Center


Homeless Prevention

The Original Old Main, which opened in 1869 and served Veterans until 1989, is now coming full circle and will provide homeless Veteran housing.

The lights are back on in Old Main for the first time in more than 30 years, thanks to the hard work of the Milwaukee VA's historical partners who had a vision to turn the origianl home for Civil War Veterans into homeless housing. Old Main and the oither buildings in the historic district of the Soldiers Home on the Milwaukee VA campus will now provide 100 single and family apartments for homeless and at-risk Veterans.

Ending Veteran homelessness has long been our goal at the Milwaukee VA and our 51 emloyees in the Homeless Prevention program won't rest until every person who served his or her country has a warm place to call their own and a chance to reintegrate back into sociey with proper medical care and supportive services. We are grateful for our community partners, Veteran organizations, landlords and others who have helped us provide homes for hundreds of Veterans each year, and we continue to serve those who served with the world-class care they've earned and deserve.

For more information on our services, homeless housing on the Milwaukee VA campus and other resources, please keep reading our Qs and As below.

Q: What are the points of contact for homeless services in the community?
A: Please contact these organizations for more information:

  • Housing Urban Development / Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing
    Milwaukee VA Medical Center
    414-384-2000, ext. 45996
  • Veterans Justice Outreach 
    Milwaukee VA Medical Center
    414-384-2000, ext. 44521
  • Community Resource & Referral Center
    1818 N. Martin Luther King Drive 
  • G & PD – Grant & Per Diem Transition Housing for Homeless Veterans – Vets Place Central -- The Grant and Per Diem Program offers housing for homeless Veterans at several locations in Eastern Wisconsin.  These include transitional housing for men, women, and women Veterans with children.  Transition In Place is a specialized program that allows a Veteran and family to enter an apartment and be able to transition into permanent housing by assuming the lease on the occupied unit. For more information, call 877-424-3838.
    3330 W. Wells St.

Q: What does the VA’s homeless prevention program consist of?
A: The Milwaukee VA Medical Center’s Homeless Programs provide individualized, comprehensive care to Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Here is a list of many of our services:

Health Care for Homeless Veterans -- VA staff provides outreach, engagement and treatment as well as Contract Transitional Housing

Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program – in partnership with not-for-profit organizations and governmental agencies, this program offers transitional housing to Veterans who are homeless

Dental Care for Homeless Veterans -- There is some limited eligibility for dental care for Veterans who are in certain VA -- sponsored rehabilitation programs.

HUD/VA Supportive Housing – in collaboration with US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the HUD/VASH program offers permanent housing to eligible Veterans

Health Care for Reentry Veterans – assistance to incarcerated Veterans leaving prison

Veterans Justice Outreach – offers treatment as an alternative to prevent the unnecessary incarceration of justice-involved Veterans

Stand Down – a collaboration between VA and community agencies to provide access to concrete services and treatment

CHALENG – Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Groups engages Veterans and other concerned citizens in assessing the needs of homeless and at risk Veterans

Supportive Services to Veterans and Families (SSVF) – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers grants to not-for-profit organizations to provide assistance to Veterans and their families for homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing.

For information on all these program, please call our local homeless outreach coordinator, Barbara Gilbert, at 414-384-2000, ext. 45966

Old Main opening to homeless Veterans

Old Main apartmentAfter more than 30 years, the Milwaukee Soldiers Home is opening its doors again, reborn as housing for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Work is continuing to lease the apartments. Learn More.


Q: Do you provide immediate housing for homeless Veterans?
A: Same-day housing is available weekdays with admission to a grant and per diem program or contract transitional housing.

Q: What is the Community Resource and Referral Center and what services does it offer?
The CRRC, located at 1818 N. Martin Luther King Drive, offers a one-stop environment for Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We collaborate with local community, state and federal partners. We offer mental health treatment, substance abuse disorder counseling, vocational and employment assistance, housing referrals and VA benefits applications. Community partners offer help with supportive services, community housing programs and homelessness prevention services. The CRRC hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached at 414-263-7673

Take a peek inside Old Main

Inside Old MainWeeks before the opening when Veterans start moving in, Jon Beck took Spectrum News on a tour of the work and amazing restoration of Old Main. Learn More.

Q: When is Old Main reopening for homeless housing?
A: Old Main has gone under an extensive renovation in partnership with The Alexander Company. Our first group of homeless Veterans will move in March 1.

Q: How much did it cost to renovate Old Main and where did VA get the money?
A: Old Main and other historic buildings on campus will be used for homeless Veteran housing as part of a partnership with The Alexander Company. Because this is part of the Enhanced Use Lease, the $44 million project does not come out of the VA budget. The money was raised from grants, tax subsidies and donations.

Q: How many rooms will this project open up?
A: In total 101 housing units will be available. Old Main contains 80 -- 70 one-bedroom apartments and 10 two-bedroom apartments. The Administration Building on campus offers 14 single-room occupancy units. This is a form of housing consisting of one private bedroom and closet space with shared amenities available for all to use. Six private duplexes are available, with each duplex offering three bedrooms. Lastly, the former Catholic chaplain’s quarters has been rehabilitated as a private, single-family home offering four bedrooms. Floor plans and photos are available at milwaukeesoldiershome.com

Q: How do I sign up for that housing?

A: Veterans interesting in residing in Old Main must apply through the HUD-VASH Program, designed to assist Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  Veterans can be referred to the HUD-VASH Program by a VA provider, or they may self-refer by calling 1-877-4AID-VET. Information is also available at Milwaukeesoldiershome.com

Q: How much will it cost me to stay in Old Main or one of the other buildings on campus?
A: Rent is subsidized by the HUD-VASH Rent Assistance Program.  Residents pay about 30 percent of their adjusted gross household income toward rent.

Q: What services will be offered in this housing areas?
A: All residents of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home will have access to a range of supportive services, provided on-site by the Milwaukee VA Medical Center HUD-VASH Program. These services include: care coordination services; educational training and employment assistance; benefits assistance; peer-to-peer counseling; recreational activities; wellness programs; independent living skills training, including: cleaning, meal planning and preparation, laundry, and personal finance; sobriety maintenance; nutritional support; outpatient clinical referrals; and referrals to partner organizations.

Q: I’m a Veteran living on the street, how do I qualify for this program?
A: You may qualify if you served in the active military and were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. For some services, the period of military service may be as little as one day. To find out how to get help, dial 2-1-1, if you are in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Racine, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Jefferson or Walworth Counties. You can also text your ZIP Code to TXT-211 (898-211), or click here for their web site. You can also call or visit the nearest VA medical center or clinic, or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-424-3838.

Q: If someone homeless comes to you, what are the typical services you provide?
A: First we do an evaluation of need and see if treatment is needed. We offer referrals for housing, employment and other needed services or programs.

Q:  Do I need to be enrolled for VA care to participate in these programs?
A: Most programs require a Veteran be enrolled and eligible for VA health care; however VA has referral relationships with other community providers who may be able to offer the services you need if you are ineligible for VA.

Q: Does the VA provide long-term housing? How much does it cost the Veteran?
A: Through VA’s collaboration with HUD, permanent housing (HUD/VASH) may be available to some Veterans. The cost of housing in this program is usually 30 percent of a Veteran’s income. There are other permanent housing programs that are offered by local public housing agencies and other community partners which are available to Veterans.

Q: I can’t pay my mortgage or rent anymore and I’m about to be thrown out on the street. What can you do to help me?
A: You may contact the National Call Center at 1-877-424-3838 if you have a housing crisis. Someone will respond and determine availability.
If you have a VA-guaranteed loan, VA counselors at nine regional loan centers may help avoid foreclosure through counseling and special financing arrangements. The counselors also may assist other Veterans with financial problems. Depending on a veteran’s circumstances, VA can intercede with the borrower on the veteran’s behalf to pursue options: repayment plans, forbearance, and loan modifications. These would assist the Veteran’s home residence.  For help from a VA financial counselor, Veterans can call VA toll-free at 1-877-827-3702. For innformation about VA’s home loan guaranty program, go to: www.homeloans.va.gov.

Q: What if I am at risk of foreclosure on my home?
A: You may contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, by calling 1-800-569-4287 or TDD 1-800-877-8339 for the counseling agency nearest you.

Q: Can you provide housing if I also have a substance abuse issue?
A: A “Housing First” approach is used to help Veterans to become stably housed while thinking about getting treatment. We will assist you in finding the resources that will meet your housing and treatment needs and preferences.

Q: What if I have a prison record?
A: A Veteran’s legal history may sometimes make it harder to find housing. VA will work with you to find resources to address your housing needs.

Q: Can you also provide housing for my children and family members?
A: The HUD/VASH program provides housing to the Veteran and family. In addition, Supportive Services to Veterans Families assists Veterans and their families in reaching goals of permanent, stable housing. In Milwaukee, a Grant and Per Diem provider offers housing to women with small children. VA maintains referral relationships with other community providers who offer housing for children and family members.

Q: Where can I get a warm meal and additional information?
A: There are meals sites located in numerous communities served by the medical center and its outpatient clinics. These may be found by contacting the local IMPACT 2-1-1 call center.
2-1-1 is a simple, free way to connect anyone in need with vital human services for everyday life or in crisis. By dialing 2-1-1 anywhere in the state of Wisconsin, people are linked to information about local resources, from both government and nonprofit organizations. From the single parent seeking food for their children to the senior citizen looking for in-home care, 2-1-1 brings people and community resources together.

Q: Where are you located?
A: VA Homeless Programs staff is located in communities throughout eastern Wisconsin, and have office locations in Green Bay, Appleton, Milwaukee and Racine.

Q: How do you find homeless Veterans? Do you wait for them to come to you, or do you go out and find them?
A: VA staff conducts extensive outreach in urban, suburban, and rural communities in eastern Wisconsin. These outreach efforts include visits to: meal sites, streets, shelters, encampments, police ride-alongs, and other locations not suitable for human habitation if homeless individuals are likely to be found. VA staff also reaches out to Veterans incarcerated in state or federal prisons at risk of homelessness. For more information, go to: http://justiceforvets.org

Q: If I know of a homeless Veteran, should I refer the person to your office?
A: You may encourage the Veteran to make the call to 1-877-424-3838 or the Veteran may contact a VA health care representative to make a referral to the Homeless Programs.

Q: What if the homeless Veteran received less than an honorable discharge?
A: The Veteran should be encouraged to seek assistance anyway. It may be possible for a Veteran to obtain a discharge upgrade. If VA services are not available, a referral will be made to non-VA community providers.

Q: What if I’m a homeless Veteran but I don’t want housing? I just want some clean clothes and a warm meal. Will you provide it?
A: We will work with you to determine your needs and when you are ready for more assistance. Referrals to community agencies may be made and VA staff will stay in touch with you to further evaluate when you are ready to think about, and plan for, housing.

Q: What if you provide me low-cost housing and I still can’t afford it?
A: Every effort will be made to help you establish an income so that housing can become affordable.

Q: If I am homeless or just in danger of losing my house, is there one phone number I can call that will help? What services will they provide?
A: The National Call Center at 1-877-424-3838 will give you access to someone to help sort out your needs and how to get the needed help.

Q: I would like to help with your homeless outreach as a volunteer. Do you have any positions like that? How can I help?
A: If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Voluntary Service at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, 414-384-2000, ext. 41803.

Q: What additional web sites should I be aware of?
A: National Call Center for Homeless Veterans -- http://vaww1.va.gov/HOMELESS/index.asp
Veterans Crisis Line --  http://veteranscrisisline.net/

25. Is there anything else I should know?

In the fall of 2014, a Community Resource and Referral Center opened at 1818 North Martin Luther King Drive in Milwaukee. CRRC is strategically located in Milwaukee providing "one-stop-shopping" to serve homeless, at-risk Veterans and their families.

The CRRC has been established in collaboration with local community-based homeless providers and other federal and state partners that provide services to persons who are homeless or at-risk.

VA is working with these partners who are co-located at the CRRC site offering services: outreach and engagement, clinical care management, vocational services, financial benefits, and immediate access to primary/behavioral healthcare treatment, shelter, residential care, and housing services.