MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The effort to end homelessness among military veterans got one step closer to becoming reality Wednesday with the opening of a new housing community.
Public and private sector funding is responsible for a 100-unit apartment community.
A key to Veteran’s East unlocks the door to a brighter future for veteran Arthur Williams. He calls his new apartment a dream come true.
“This means a lot to me, and just to have a lot of people involved to help me and support me through all this, man, this is beautiful, man, I didn’t expect this,” Williams said.
He knows about being homeless.
“I’ve been on the streets a long time,” Williams said. “The streets is dangerous. You don’t know what’s going to happen to you from one day to the next.”
Retired Army General Patty Horoho is now CEO of UnitedHealth Group OptumServe, which donated more than $5 million to this project that also gives veterans access to health care, benefits assistance and education and employment resources.
“United Health Group and Optum Serve are proud to have the privilege to partner, to invest and to help build Veteran’s East,” Horoho said.
The five-story building includes a lobby with security, a community room, computer stations and laundry.
United Health Care and Optum employees who are also veterans made up welcome baskets to make new residents feel at home.
“For something like this to pop up to help the homeless veterans such as myself, man, it’s a beautiful thing,” Williams said.
Homelessness among Minnesota veterans has been reduced by 50 percent since 2010.
Veterans’ East is just one of several projects geared towards eliminating homelessness in the state.
The building will be renamed the Richard Brustad Homes, after the former County Housing Development Corporation founder who made this affordable housing possible.