One of Wisconsin’s four programs offering temporary housing for homeless veterans will shutter by the end of September, creating uncertainty for those in the program who must seek a spot at one of the state’s other facilities or find another place to live.
About two dozen homeless veterans attend the program at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King near Waupaca. Those individuals may move to another type of transitional housing program or to one of the other three state programs in Chippewa Falls, Union Grove and Green Bay, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Carla Vigue said.
The three state facilities already have limited beds available. Of the 78 total beds in those programs, 65 are occupied, according to agency data.
The facilities also have wait lists, but King program participants will be given priority, Vigue said.
Clinicians and counselors are working with each veteran to assess where each would like to go, she said. Veterans Affairs Secretary Mary Kolar spoke with the veterans about the pending program closure on Sunday.
“This difficult decision is being made in order to best serve those in our program by finding them a more ideal location to live and receive the services they need,” Vigue said.
The state’s transitional housing programs for veterans can last up to two years and provides the veterans with mental health counseling, financial literacy training and employee assistance to help find a job.
The closure stems from the demolition of a building that initially housed the program to make room for a new skilled nursing facility.
Officials moved the homeless veterans into MacArthur Hall, one of four skilled nursing facilities on the King campus, where they lived alongside sick and elderly residents.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to allow the veterans to live in MacArthur on a temporary basis, Vigue said.
But in recent discussions with the agency, “it became clear that there is an expectation that a permanent solution to this temporary fix be enacted as soon as feasible,” she said.
Agency officials have not decided on whether to bring the program back in the future, Vigue said.