Ending Veteran's Homelessness in Great Falls

[Photo 1: Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly addresses the group on Veterans Day]
Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly addresses the group on Veterans Day

[Photo 2: Grace Home for Veterans in Great Falls]
Grace Home for Veterans in Great Falls

On Veteran's Day 2016, a wide range of community leaders in Great Falls convened at the Grace Home, a new transitional housing facility for homeless veterans. Mayor Bob Kelly gathered a group of social service providers, non-profits, volunteers, and veterans to discuss and showcase efforts that have been made in responding to the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans' Homelessness.

Great Falls joined the national challenge earlier this year at a community-wide forum in April 2016. By accepting the challenge, Mayor Kelly joined over 800 elected officials across the country who have made a commitment to ending veteran homelessness in their cities. In his remarks at the event, he noted that this special day provides an opportunity to reflect on how far the community has progressed and also to seek new ways to collaborate in the future.

Grace Home Director Bill Chafin commented that later in the day, the first two veterans to stay in the 10-room facility were expected to arrive. Deb Kottel from the St. Vincent de Paul society described the intake process, pointing out that volunteers have been conducting outreach at 28 identified sites and remote encampments in the Great Falls area. In addition to locating veterans in these locations, volunteers are helping to connect them with local programs, resources, and services in the community.

District Judge Greg Pinski, who presides over the Veterans Treatment Court and was heavily involved in launching the challenge in Great Falls, emphasized that the community is making great strides towards ending homelessness, yet there should be no veterans without a place to call home.

Due to collaborative efforts like this throughout the country, homelessness countinues to decline across the United States, according to the recently released 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2016-AHAR-Part-1.pdf). Specifically, the report highlights the downward trend in homelessness among families with children, veterans, and individuals with long-term disabling conditions.

In Montana, while the number of persons experiencing homelessness on a single night fell 12.2 percent since the 2010 release of Opening Doors, the Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness (https://www.usich.gov/opening-doors), the estimates show a 55 percent drop in veteran homeless during this time!


Content Archived: February 12, 2018