Local veterans program sets example nationwide

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Homelessness among our nation’s veterans continues to be a problem across the country, but in Kent County, there’s one program that set out to put an end to that issue and find a stable home for every veteran — and they did it.

Community Rebuilders is making a huge difference locally and is setting an example nationwide.

Ricky Feutz says if not for Community Rebuilders, he doesn’t know where he and his family would be today, after a back injury left him unable to work and feeling lost.

“I had three kids to worry about and my wife and I didn’t know what to do and I was at a really low point then,” Feutz said.   

He is an Army veteran that was formerly stationed in Panama. He’s one in a long line of generations committed to serving this country, dating all the way back to his great-great grandfather in World War I.

But years later after moving home to Grand Rapids, a severe injury on the job left Feutz desperate and facing yet another housing transition.  

Jeff King from Community Rebuilders says the nonprofit is committed to connecting veterans with stable housing.

“It took a little bit of a paradigm shift in our community away from a desire to provide emergency shelter to providing housing,” he said.

The veterans program is very successful with Community Rebuilders. It’s now being used as an example nationwide by aligning a case worker with each veteran.

“So, our staff spent a lot of time making sure people are plugged back into employment, healthcare, their neighborhood association, their church community, (and) their kid’s school so (that) they continue to have all those support networks around them for the long haul,” King said.

Feutz says that support system was key to helping them with their specific situation.

“Now we can worry about homework, Halloween outfits … just the simple stuff instead of everyday waking up and grinding your teeth thinking, oh what about today? Are we going to end up homeless? Or do we have money to pay for this?” Feutz said. “Everything is perfect for us. Some people have to have all the amenities and stuff, but we have fun with what we have.”

More information about Community Rebuilders, you can be found on its website.  

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