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Collins joins fight against homelessness for veterans

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Collins

THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
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Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins is traveling to Washington today to take part in a national discussion about ending veteran homelessness.

Mr. Collins, a Marine Corps veteran, was asked Tuesday to attend today’s meeting at the White House. It is part of an ongoing initiative called the “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” in their cities by the end of 2015. The initiative is part of a push by the federal government to end overall homelessness by 2020.

The mayor booked a last-minute, $1,104 flight from Detroit Metro Airport, despite his own edict that city workers should fly out of Toledo Express Airport when possible. Mr. Collins said the late invitation in this case made that impossible because he couldn’t get a flight from Toledo that would get him to Washington on time.

Mr. Collins said the goal to end veteran homelessness is attainable and fits with a planned housing development in Toledo for homeless and disabled veterans. National Church Residences, a nonprofit organization, is developing a $12.5 million veterans housing project at 1065 Garden Lake Pkwy., near South Detroit and Arlington avenues.

“My goal is to see that no veteran in Toledo, Ohio, has the unfortunate circumstance of being unhoused,” Mayor Collins said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires an annual count of homeless people. The number is critical to funding local homeless services. The January, 2012, Lucas County total was 977 individuals. Of those, 137 were without shelter. The rest were in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

This year’s January count was 809, of which nine people were without shelter, said Tom Bonnington, executive director of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board.

The 2014 count did not include people staying at the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission. Mr. Bonnington said the shelter declined to participate in the count.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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