VA: Vets Won’t Be Left Homeless if Montana Facility Closes

The Montana Veterans Foundation is planning to close its Willis Cruse Transitional Facility

By Associated Press

HELENA — Eight veterans who live in a Helena facility won’t be left homeless if the facility shuts down, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said.

The Montana Veterans Foundation is planning to close its Willis Cruse Transitional Facility because the VA reduced its funding.

The VA will make sure a long-term housing plan is in place for the veterans, said Mike Garcia, a spokesman for the VA Montana Health Care System. “Those veterans are not going to be left out in the cold,” he told the Helena Independent Record in a story published Sunday.

The facility had 12 beds, but the VA told the Montana Veterans Foundation in November 2015 it was reducing the funding to eight, saying not all the beds were being used.

Foundation President Mike Hampson said that level of funding isn’t sufficient to pay the bills, and the group announced last month it would have to sell the building. Hampson said he tried but failed to persuade the VA to restore the funding.

Foundation officials have been speaking with the operators of Spring Meadow Resources, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities, about taking over the veterans’ shelter program. Spring Meadow operates six group homes and two apartment complexes.

Jim Bissett, Spring Meadow Resources’ CEO, said his group and the Montana Veterans Foundation need to negotiate further. If they reach an agreement to take over the program, Spring Meadow would then have to negotiate with the VA, Bissett said.

“Who knows how all this could play out,” said.

The VA would have to agree to renew its contract with the Montana Veterans Foundation and then transfer it to Spring Meadow for the shift to occur.

The foundation would continue to operate the facility, but with a different focus, Hampson said. The foundation might try providing services to a wider range of veterans, such as women with children, Hampson said.

The Willis Cruse home serves only men.

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