Des Moines Receives Recognition from White House

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The city of Des Moines is receiving high praise from the White House for ending veteran homelessness.

The hard work done by the city was in response to the national, "Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness."

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, that challenge was first issued by First Lady Michelle Obama and has recruited nearly 870 mayors and local officials to commit to its ambitious goal.

On Thursday, those efforts were highlighted.

"It said 'Dear Mayor Cownie, I am thrilled to congratulate the city of Des Moines and Polk County on the extraordinary achievement of ending veteran`s homelessness.' Now it goes on and talks about joining forces and everything that we do and it`s signed, 'Michelle Obama,'" Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said.

The mayor was referring to the letter he received from the White House, thanking him and his colleagues for their leadership and their work on this issue.

Des Moines is the first community in HUD's region 7 to effectively end veteran homelessness. Region 7 is made up of Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Des Moines was able to achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans by establishing a system to house any veteran who may be living in emergency shelters or on the streets.

"Current information suggests that all identified homeless veterans in the city of Des Moines and Polk county who are not already in permanent housing, are in some form of programming with resources in place to assist them with permanent housing opportunities," said Jennifer Miner, a supervisor for Central Iowa’s Department of Veteran Affairs. "Veterans who decline services at this time are regularly contacted should a desire for services arise in the future."

The city says throughout the year, more than 230 homeless veterans were identified and placed in housing. An additional 54 are awaiting housing placement, all within the 90-day requirement.

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