Female case worker meeting with a man sitting in a wheelchair

Helping Veterans Transition out of Homelessness in Detroit

It’s a common saying that homelessness doesn’t discriminate – even when it comes to the men and women who have served our country in the military.

In Detroit, organizations like Southwest Solutions are making a difference in the lives of homeless veterans.

When Southwest Solutions opened Piquette Square – a 150-unit apartment building for homeless vets – in 2010 at 6221 Brush St. in New Center, homelessness among veterans was a “huge issue,” said Kenneth Cobb, Southwest Solutions veteran services manager.

Thanks to concentrated efforts by multiple organizations and targeted federal grant money, homelessness among veterans has decreased in Detroit and in the U.S. The number of veterans on the streets declined by 50% from 2010 to 2019, according to a national count of the homeless population conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Despite these great advances, the work of organizations like Southwest Solutions at Piquette Square continue to be incredibly important in helping veterans transition off the street and into stable housing. The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan are proud to support the work at Piquette Square with a Supportive Housing for Health Equity grant.

This grant enables the expansion of supportive services including an additional case manager to assist veteran residents at Piquette Square. Cobb, the veteran services manager, said in a building of 150 residents, this makes a significant difference.

“Case managers make the biggest difference – especially for people transitioning out of homelessness for the first time,” Cobb said.

Case managers help the Piquette Square residents understand how to pay rent, help them navigate bus systems to get to the grocery, make sure they get to their medical appointments and enroll them in health care plans. Residents of Piquette Square pay about 30% of their income for rent through a Section 8 voucher. They can live there as long as they need to – even if their income increases.

Due to their years of service, some veterans may have post-traumatic stress disorder or battle substance use disorder issues; or have a chronic medical condition that prevents them from working. Many may have traumatic events unrelated to their military service, Cobb said.

As new developments change Detroit and raise rents – especially in New Center – the work of Southwest Solutions at Piquette Square continues to be important.

“Blue Cross is honored to stand alongside organizations making a difference in the lives of veterans – especially when it comes to making sure they have a roof over their heads and access to affordable health care,” said Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations at Blue Cross. “We’re thankful for the hardworking staff of Southwest Solutions who help the residents of Piquette Square transition out of homeless and into the next chapter of their lives.”

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