Construction begins for new veteran emergency homeless shelter
COLUMBIA — Welcome Home Inc. broke ground on mid-Missouri's only emergency homeless shelter for veterans Thursday morning.
Located off of Business Loop 70 East, the shelter will consist of 32 rooms and will be similar to the permanent veteran housing across the property, Patriot Place.
Unlike other homeless veteran shelter options, Welcome Home is open to men, women, and families alike.
President of Veterans United, Greg Steinhoff said the aim of the shelter is to create a resource for all veterans in need.
"The beauty of this place is that a family, a female, a homeless veteran, regardless of their situation or status can come here, and we've got everything thats's brought to them, they don't have to go find it. Give them the bets chance of getting back on their feet," Steinhoff said.
The shelter comes with an estimated price tag of $3.1 million. Donations have already begun to come in.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, it was announced that employees with Veterans United Home Loans are donating $1.5 million in an effort to get the construction moving, the organization's largest donation ever. The donation joins a $500,000 one from the City of Columbia, and a $20,000 one from Coil Construction, as well as additional donations from various organizations.
Herbert Helper is a resident at Patriot Place. He said the news shelter offers more than a place to sleep for veterans like himself.
"Now I have a home, a place to call home, a place to hang my hat, my little castle, my little castle, and it means a lot to me.
After leaving the U.S. Army Signal Corps following his rotation in 1973-79, Helper said he has struggled to find a place of his own.
"I was just too used to the military, and I just didn't seem to fit in anywhere," Hepler said. "Too used to the military." Hepler said.
He is currently working as a chief and gardener on the property as he works to find a job.
According to Hepler, veterans who are struggling and don't make use of this new resource are not making the most of their opportunities.
"If they don't, they're crazy," Hepler said. "I mean, this is their chance to get off the street and start making something of themselves."
Construction is anticipated to be complete by the end of spring 2017.