PHA teams up with V.A. to help homeless vets

By WEEK Producer

May 9, 2013 Updated May 9, 2013 at 8:41 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The Peoria Housing Authority has teamed up with the Veterans Administration in an effort to help find housing for homeless veterans.

Mike Kruschinsky and his service dog Milo are getting comfortable in the Woodridge Manor apartment they moved into this week.

Mike says it's the nicest place he's had in years. That's because for the past three he's been homeless.

"I was at the point where I didn't have a place to live, no food and I thought maybe they could help me<' Kruschinsky said.

A veteran of the Army, Kruschinsky reached out to Goodwill. That connection eventually led him to the Veterans Administration, which has a voucher program to help homeless veterans who qualify get housing.

The program helped Mike find a home at Woodridge Manor in Peoria.
The program is a collaborative effort between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Administration.

In the last year alone their HUD-VASH (Veterans Administration Supported Housing) program is at least partially responsible for reducing homelessness among veterans by 17-percent.

"The only requirements are the veteran needs to be honorably discharged, not a lifetime sex-offender and willing to participate in case management. And that's it," explained Jennifer Gerrib of the Veterans Administration.

Kruschinsky met those qualifications making him eligible for one of 25 V.A. supported housing vouchers distributed to the Peoria Housing Authority.

Now they're helping him find work.

"I have an example of a veteran who found employment with the Peoria Civic Center and a couple who've had temporary positions with Caterpillar," said Jennifer Davidson, section-8 supervisor for the Peoria Housing Authority.

Kruschnisky's got 20 years in construction but says he'll take anything to earn a paycheck so he can take care of Milo and fulfill a promise to his late girlfriend.

"(Milo) was my girlfriend's dog and she had breast cancer," said Mike. "Right before she died I told her I'd take care of him and it'll be 7 years ago next month."

The V.A. would like help more people like Kruschinsky through the Homeless Veterans Hotline. The number is 877-424-3838.