By Doug T. Graham, Daily Herald, July 8, 2019
While there are likely military veterans grappling with homelessness somewhere in Lake County, two national agencies have assessed the county and said it is among a select group of communities certified to have "officially ended homelessness" for veterans.
The designation does not mean that the problem has been eliminated. Rather, it indicates "that a coordinated system of care has been established that connects homeless veterans to housing and services, effectively ending their homeless status soon after they've been identified," according to a county news release.
Lake County is just the second community in the state, after the city of Rockford, and just the 10th in the country to receive that designation from both the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the national nonprofit Built for Zero organization.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness will say a community has eliminated veteran homelessness only after it has achieved the capacity to quickly identify and engage people at risk of homelessness, prevent people from losing their housing, and connect veterans to assistance and services tailored to their needs to help them achieve and maintain stable housing.
The Lake County Coalition for the Homeless, made up of 19 organizations including government bodies, nonprofits and health care providers, started in 2015 with the goal of improving coordination across service providers and breaking down barriers that were keeping some veterans homeless, according to a county news release.
"Since the beginning of our efforts, the coalition's partner agencies have been working together to build a seamless system of care for homeless veterans," said Sue Shimon, the president of the Coalition for the Homeless, in the statement.
The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago operates a one-stop center designed to connect veterans to the services they need.
"This is a major accomplishment for any community and an important milestone in working toward ending all types of homelessness in our community," Lake County Board Chairwoman Sandy Hart said.