Nonprofit’s plan to house veteran near Traverse City falls apart

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A U.S. Army veteran in the Traverse City area is homeless after a housing plan set up by a nonprofit group fell through.

Dave Smiddy tells the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he thought he was moving to a house in Grand Traverse County’s Garfield Township with the help of Veterans Housing USA. With much publicity, volunteers packed his belongings in April. But they were placed in a storage unit instead of the house.

Smiddy said he’s now staying with a friend while he searches for a rental property.

“I’m couch surfing,” he said. “I’m tearing this town apart looking for an affordable rental.”

Veterans Housing USA president Mike Griffith said there was miscommunication with the owner of a house that would have been shared by Smiddy and another veteran.

The property is owned by another nonprofit, Society of St. Vincent de Paul. But that group said it never agreed to house anyone with Veterans Housing USA. Officials said they hadn’t heard of Smiddy until they saw stories by news media.

St. Vincent’s executive director, Julie Ellalasingham, said no contracts were signed.

“We aren’t ready to have anybody live there yet,” she said.

Griffith admitted it was a mistake to send announcements naming St. Vincent before completing a deal.

“I genuinely thought that it was going to go through. It never was a day away,” he said. “It turns out we were never as close to paperwork as we thought.”

Griffith said the organization is reassessing how to pursue housing for veterans.

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