WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — On this Veterans Day, we’re highlighting an issue no veteran should endure, homelessness.
One Metro Detroit woman is working to address the issue with compassion and empathy, one transition at a time.
“This is the first house right here,” said Pazzella Colston Bonner.
“How many are here currently?” asked WXYZ’s Brian Abel.
There are three veterans that are here right now,” said Colston Bonner. “One of them has a purple heart.”
Pazzella Colston Conner is the wo,man behind Homes for Heroic Veterans, a nonprofit providing transitional housing for veterans experiencing homelessness in Metro Detroit, connecting them with a roof and necessities.
“It’s comfortable, it's nice, it's peaceful. It’s a home,” said. Colston Bonner.
A home is what hundreds of veterans in our state don’t have.
In Michigan, 639 counted as homeless in the United States Housing and Urban Development Department’s 2020 homelessness report.
“You know the military whether you go to war or not, you’re trained for war. So, you may have a weapon in your hand on Friday and get discharged on Saturday you get home on Sunday so Monday you want me to get up and take my kid to school like nothing ever happened?” said Colston Bonner.
“Most veterans don’t transfer that. They don’t transition out of that well and those are the ones that end up being homeless,” she added.
At times – the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) and red tape, leaving soldiers without services they need.
Pazz’s compassion and drive to help comes from knowing this all too well.
A veteran herself, she was denied benefits after discharge, until someone else helped her. A 37-year struggle with the VA.
“I started having really bad joint pain and these are from injuries I sustained during basic training,” said Colston Bonner. “And I went down to the VA and they said, whoops there was a clause in your contract and because you didn’t complete 2 years of active duty, you cannot be seen here.”
“If I went through this for 37 years, what are other veterans going through? There has to be something to do to help veterans,” explained Colston Bonner.
Heroic Homes for Veterans was born.
“What they need is love and support,” said Colston Bonner.
“Because once they get here, they get to the next level?” asked Abel.
“Yes. They get to the next level,” said Colston Bonner.
Two years old now, the organization has two homes in Warren working as transitional housing.
She is hoping to expand in metro Detroit.
“What the goal is, is to be able to get more properties to get the guys into transitional housing, but when they leave transitional housing, they still need to have somewhere to go after they have their voucher, so we want to be able to get a partner so they can just transition into their apartments, you know, keep working, keep doing what they’re doing but still be in a veteran environment,” said Colston Bonner.
“Once you get here. Then you get to that apartment. There’s dignity in that,” said Abel.
“Yes. Yes. It's like okay I'm actually accomplishing something,” said Colston Bonner.
Here is how you can help: HOMES FOR HEROIC VETERANS