As homelessness among veterans in mid-Missouri continues to increase, organizations in Columbia are looking to combat this growing problem.
The Columbia Housing Authority, Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, and Welcome Home Inc. have been developing a campus that would provide shelter and other services to veterans.
The proposed campus would allow for permanent and transitional living, with 29 temporary beds for veterans through Welcome Home and 25 one-bedroom apartments for veterans who use the federal program HUD-VASH (Housing Urban Development – VA Supported Housing) that provides permanent housing vouchers to homeless veterans.
Truman VA Hospital spokesperson, Stephen Gaither, says veteran homelessness has been a top concern among the three groups.
“The whole initiative to address the root causes of homelessness in the veteran population has been a priority for the department of veteran’s affairs for a number of years”, Gaither says.
He also says the campus would give hospital staff another option for assisting veterans. Additionally, the campus would align with U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki’s, plan to end veteran homelessness.
“That gives them more opportunities in their arsenal of programs and activities that help homeless veterans and the stated goal from VA Secretary Shinseki is that there wouldn’t be any veteran homelessness in this country by 2016”, Gaither says.
Funding for the project has been of high concern since the beginning stages of the proposal. The estimated $6 million that will be required to build the campus will come from multiple sources, including donations, grants, loans, and tax credits.
ND Consulting, a development and financial services group based in St. Louis, was retained by both the Columbia Housing Authority and Welcome Home and will work with the groups to affordably develop the campus facilities.
Ken Nuernberger, principle at ND Consulting Group, says the success of the building will rely on funding from multiple sources, including private donations.
“Most importantly, and very difficult to do is raise privately, funds from individuals, corporations, and other within the Columbia Missouri and mid-Missouri area.”, says Nuernberger
The three groups will have a better idea of when they will be able break ground after it is announced whether or not they receive the low-income housing tax credits that will allot to $1.8 million.