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New ND Infinitive Helps Veterans Address Legal Barriers in Housing


Monday, April 25, 2022   

The U.S. has made strides in reducing homelessness among military veterans, but barriers still exist in some situations. A new partnership aims to reduce legal obstacles for veterans in North Dakota trying to secure housing.

Through a Department of Veterans Affairs grant, Community Action Partnership of North Dakota and Legal Services of North Dakota team up to work with veterans who need a legal issue resolved before proceeding with a housing application, or to avoid being forced from their current home.

Safari Berry is a supportive services for veteran families case manager with Red River Valley Community Action. She cited a number of common factors they see in working with clients.

"Prior evictions that are a barrier to them receiving new rentals," said Berry. "Also, to lower child-support payments. That's a huge one for my veterans, and it's a very big barrier for them to be able to afford housing."

A low-income veteran - receiving help through CAP-ND's Supportive Services for Veteran Families program - is referred to Legal Services in these scenarios.

Unlike past referrals, the two organizations now work more closely with each other to remove red flags from a client's record, and following up as needed.

Those involved say a more robust approach - as opposed to handing off a case to another agency - can help veterans feel like they're getting the support they need.

CAP-ND's Statewide Outreach Coordinator, Carmel Froemke, said that's important as these individuals work through a variety of struggles.

"The mental-health issues, chemical-dependency issues," said Froemke. "And then there's the lack of affordable housing. Just all combined - it just creates barrier upon barrier."

Veteran's Affairs officials say North Dakota is on track to reach functional zero homelessness for those who have served. Beyond successful prevention, it means keeping these situations brief when they do occur.

Holly Papineau, veteran case manager at the South Eastern North Dakota Community Action Agency, said this new partnership reflects broader cooperation to address wrap-around issues.

"When I first started this job, there was, like, one silo and then another silo," said Papineau. "And, you know, we're duplicating the work, but now that we all know what we're doing and how we're going to help this person - it's quicker. And there's more prioritization going on."

Disclosure: Community Action Partnership of North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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