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McHenry nonprofit hopes to keep veterans from becoming homeless

McHENRY – When area veterans and their families find their housing situation in jeopardy, a McHenry-based nonprofit will soon be able to offer them financial assistance.

TLS Veterans received a $335,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help keep veterans and their families from becoming homeless, Executive Director Alan Belcher said.

Besides hiring a housing specialist, the grant will allow the nonprofit to offer monetary help with rent and security deposits as well as limited help with things that could be contributing to the precarious housing situation like fixing a car so they can continue to get to work or connecting them with child care services, he said.

It will also partner with Prairie State Legal Services because many families are mired in legal problems.

Once someone becomes homeless, the situation becomes a lot harder – and more expensive to fix because they lose everything, Belcher said.

The program will start Oct. 1.

"I know we're going to get a lot of calls," Belcher said.

In 2012, the last time the McHenry County Continuum of Care to End Homelessness conducted a point-in-time count to get an idea of the homeless population in the county, its volunteers counted 57 homeless veterans, which make up nearly half the county's homeless population.

The grant covers more than just McHenry County, though. It will expand the nonprofit's service area into Kenosha County in Wisconsin, putting it in line with the Lovell Federal Health Care Center's service area, he said.

TLS Veterans also covers northern Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. It provides transitional housing at New Horizons in Hebron and is looking to build affordable housing for veterans in McHenry.

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