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  • Writer's pictureJim Strawn

Winter Comes, Homelessness for Veterans Still a Problem

From: BU News Service

By: Sizhong Chen

Insightful article by the Boston University News Service.

Michael, wearing his blue veteran Navy cap, was smiling when he entered the room. He had spent 15 months at Father Bill’s Place, an emergency shelter for homeless people in Quincy. A few weeks earlier, he got enrolled in a permanent housing provided by the same non-profit organization, Father Bill’s and MainSpring.

“I think I’ll be out before Christmas,” said Michael, who requested that he be referenced only by his first name.

Michael had never thought about being homeless. He came from a military family and entered the Navy in 1984 at 17 years old. After discharge, he quickly adjusted to civilian life as a truck driver.

His life shifted in 2015. Sharing a joint bank account with his ex-girlfriend in Florida, Michael found out all his money, as well as the equipment for his truck driving business, had been stolen while he was away in South Dakota. Having no job or family, Michael came to Massachusetts to seek help through a friend. They did not get along.

It was the lowest point in his life.

Transporting soldiers into combat, Michael had been a traveler on the sea. During the same period, he picked up excessive drinking habits. After being homeless, the habit got worse to a stage of alcoholism.

Following the advice of the New Way Peer Recovery Center in Quincy, Michael went into Father Bill’s Place for help. The staff gave him a bed at “gateway,” a sober dorm assigned specifically for veterans. The 13 beds are funded by U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs through a reimbursement program called “Grant and Per Diem.”

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