By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, known as MAC-V, has transitional and permanent supporting housing programs.

The group provides veterans who are experiencing homelessness with housing that is safe, clean, affordable and chemical-free.

For those veterans, finding a place to call home is the first step in re-claiming their lives. WCCO’s Reg Chapman shows us how one veteran is living again with the help of MAC-V.

“I was an over the road truck driver for 35 years,” Steve Dumdei said.

Navy Veteran Steve Dumdei says he always felt at ease on the open road. Instead of paying rent, he lived inside his 18-wheeler.

“Then all of a sudden I got up to go to work and I got sick, taken to the hospital by ambulance and the doctor came in and said you’re done,” Dumdei said.

Steve describes himself as a bad diabetic. He lost part of his foot to the disease and his eyesight was failing.

“He said you will never drive again,” Dumdei said.

The diagnosis sent Steve sliding into a state of depression. That’s when he says he gave up on the world he felt turned its back on him.

“I was homeless for almost a year-and-a-half,” Dumdei said.

But life on the streets came to an end after another doctor’s diagnosis forced him to think about living again.

“At the time I was homeless I was also having to be processed to have a transplant, and the doctors say you’ve got to find a place to live with what’s going on,” Dumdei said.

Steve found a Nicollet County service officer he says put him on the right path.

“And he referred me to MACV and so I went and that was my first contact,” Dumdei said.

MACV helped Steve connect with his earned veterans benefits. Ten years ago, he landed at the Paul and Dorothy Radichel Veteran Townhomes.

“Yes, it’s basically a family,” Dumdei said.

Tucked away behind ash and evergreen trees, 11 one-bedroom units house veterans from ages 27 to 74. Volunteers maintain the property.

Grants from both state and federal government help keep the townhomes affordable for veterans who pay based on their income.

“Use what is out there. MACV may not have all the answers, but they point you in the direction where you can get the answers you need,” Dumdei said.

For Steve, his permanent home is a godsend and so are the people at MACV who helped give him his life back.

The Mankato veteran’s community has always supported residents of Radichel Veteran Townhomes by providing a variety of meals. A local nursery donated sod and trees, a local legion provided bedding and pillows and a local motorcycle club donated the flagpole.

Your donations will help provide housing for homeless veterans in our community. The Builders Association of the Twin Cities will match all of Tuesday’s donations up to $100,000.

You can make a donation to the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans by texting MACV to 4-1-4-4-4.

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