Muskegon home works to end veteran homelessness

The Patriot House located at 1433 Clinton Street in Muskegon.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Army veteran Daniel Farber unlocked the door to Room 3 at the Patriot House — his first real home in months.

“This is my palace,” he said.

Farber, 52, had been living for a time in a tent, then in the rescue mission in Muskegon. Now, is he among the growing number of veterans finding homes.

“They gave us a little refrigerator, hooked us up with cable TV, and Wi-Fi, a bed,” Farber said.

It’s the called the Patriot House, an old home at 1433 Clinton Street bought out of foreclosure by a property manager, who worked with a local woman and out-of-work veterans to fix it up. There’s room for seven. Much of the furniture is donated.

Jone Benedict said she was inspired to help open the home after homeless advocates pleaded with landlords in the Muskegon area.

“I come from a long line of veterans,” Benedict said. “They go over there. They give their all and a lot of them come back damaged. They would have never been accepted into the service if they weren’t 100 percent and they don’t all come back 100 percent.”

Local property manager Ratan Khatri said the home, built in the late 1800s, once housed a women’s shelter and is a perfect fit as a home for veterans.

“I’m an immigrant to this country,” Khatri said. “This country’s been fabulous to me. I’ve been blessed with all the things that I have received and have worked hard for as well and so this was a small way to give back and help with that.”

National advocates have a goal to end homelessness among veterans by the end of this year.

In Kent County, that number hit 500 a year ago, some in shelters, some on the streets, said Jeffrey King, of Community Rebuilders, which is part of the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness.

“Right now, we’re looking at 50 remaining veterans,” King said, including 15 to 20 still on the streets. “There are still today a number of veterans who are homeless living on the streets in places not fit for human habitation,” he said.

Farber, one of two already living at the Patriot House, said he comes from a military family.

“My grandpa, my dad, me and then a nephew have all served, from World War I to Iraq,” he said.

He said he was among a half-dozen vets staying recently at the homeless shelter in Muskegon.

“You give them your time, and most of them give up their bodies,” Farber said. “They’ll lose a leg and an arm and they just get thrown away. It’s pathetic. They should treat them a lot better than that.”

For Farber, the Veterans of America will pay his rent through January.

After that, he will pay $550 a month, which includes utilities, from his disability check.

“I’ve only been here since Friday,” he said. “It’s been nice having a place that’s nice and warm and dry.”