Homeless Veterans Receive Permanent Housing, Benefits in Battle Creek

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — One hundred veterans who were once homeless now have roofs over their heads.

They live at the Silver Star Apartments in Battle Creek, where 75 units were built in 2009. That was a part of phase one. Phase two wrapped up three months ago, adding 100 new units.

“I moved in September 27th with literally myself and my clothes,” Lakeesha Day, a Navy veteran, said.

Day loves her new one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. From the pots and pans to a flat screen TV and a comfy couch, it was fully furnished before she moved in. She served as an air traffic controller in the Navy from 1992 to 1996. Her new apartment is a contrast to when her life hit rock bottom following her service.

“Oh, I had a lot of barriers, from domestic violence that led to depression that led to substance abuse,” Day said, “I got connected with the [Department of Veteran Affairs], and there’s a lot of support over there.”

The VA is how she learned about Silver Star Apartments. After a strenuous screening process, Day was approved.

“When I think of Silver Star, I think of hope, strength, motivation,” she said.

Anyone is able to apply, but it’s hard to get in. The Great Lakes Capital Fund financed  $12 million in equity for the construction. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority put up $5 million in loans. The VA, and the Frontier Development Group also play big roles.

Dozens of other veterans share similar stories. They celebrated their new housing and newly found hope alongside Governor Rick Snyder. He said housing like this marks a significant improvement for homeless veterans in Michigan, but there’s more work to do.

“A lot of it is this question of helping them find a job. That’s probably the top priority in many respects for veterans that are returning,” Snyder said. “That’s why we’re working hard on how can they take their military occupation and get licensed quickly in the state if they want to continue in that field?”

Bills are currently in the legislature concerning just that. Day said she recently found a job. She considers it a starting point as pushes for greater.

“This door closes or you know you’re going to get a ‘No’. You can’t stop there. You have to keep searching,” Day said. “It’s about your motivation and your drive [because] this is your life.”

Medallion Management said there’s already demand to do a similar project for the VA in Flint.

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