Across the country, cities, states, and the federal government have come to recognize what a problem veteran homelessness and poverty has become. Now, more are moving to do something about it. That includes the opening of a new affordable housing facility in Glendale, California – just outside Los Angeles – to help ensure that former servicemembers find housing stability.
Veteran's Village is a 44-unit development that had its grand opening earlier this month, but has actually been accessible to former servicemembers since late last year, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. When the initiative was first announced, interest among local veterans was immediate and widespread. More than 4,500 local vets submitted applications, and winners were chosen through a lottery system. Veterans of a number of different combat engagements, from all branches of the military, now live there.
"All of our guards are down," Joseph Garcia, a veteran of the Gulf War who is now working part-time as a carpenter and lives at the facility, told the newspaper. "We're like one big family. Whether people were in the Army, Air Force, Marines; we all get along together really well, and we're always covering for each other. We're helping each other with our kids and feeding each other."
A grand idea
The process itself of getting Veteran's Village off the ground, though, began awhile ago, with the city of Los Angeles bringing the idea to a local development firm in 2012, the report said. Construction began two years ago, and was funded through federal tax credits ($13.5 million) and both the City of Glendale and the Glendale Housing Authority ($7 million).
The units range in size and cost to make sure that they're fitting the needs of many veterans regardless of family and economic situations, the report said. There are 16 two-bedroom apartments, 14 three-bedrooms, and 13 one-bedrooms. Rents can fall anywhere from just $466 per month to as much as $1,292. Veteran's Village joins nearby Cypress Senior Living as the two veteran-specific developments in Glendale.
Plenty of support
Data suggests that as many as 4,000 veterans are living on the streets in Los Angeles County alone, which is why these efforts are seen as being so imperative to locals and elected officials alike, the report said. Glendale mayor Ara Najarian told the newspaper that he hopes to see neighboring cities take up the cause as well, because it ends up being money very well spent, and a source of pride for local residents and elected officials. Further, the fact that veterans are living in such close proximity with people who understand them is an additional benefit, because it can give them a sense of belonging and community that they otherwise might not have.
The more efforts that can be devoted to giving homeless and low-income veterans and opportunity to succeed, the better off both they and the communities supporting them will end up being. That's why these initiatives are starting to gain steam around the country.