Plans for Homeless Veterans Campus Unveiled
COLUMBIA - A proposed housing project would provide temporary and semi-permanent housing for homeless veterans in mid-Missouri.
The Columbia Housing Authority (CHA), Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital and Welcome Home Inc. teamed up to build a campus for veterans in need.
The proposed project would be located on Business Loop 70 on the property the Deluxe Inn currently occupies. The Deluxe Inn would be transformed into a building with 25 one-bedroom apartments.
Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the CHA, said the motel has "good bones," so it will be gutted and given a face-lift. The building will contain a fitness room, laundry room and computer lab. The apartments will cost approximately $3 million and will be funded by veterans affairs supportive housing vouchers, low-income tax credits, funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines and local financing.
A brand new shelter will occupy the opposite side of the 4.2 acre lot.The transitional facility operated by Welcome Home would have 29 beds with rooms for both male and female veterans. The building would also house the Supportive Services Center, a space designated for vocational training, financial and employment needs, programming space, a commercial kitchen, dining room, lounge, computer lab, laundry area and a patio. This portion of the project is estimated to cost between $2.5 and 3 million.
Veteran David Steinmeyer said the project will do more than just help the veterans.
"I think everybody is going to benefit."
Steinmeyer served at Fort Knox from 1971 to 1972. Three decades later, Steinmeyer needed help.
In 2008, Steinmeyer checked into Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital for an alcohol treatment program. He soon found himself diagnosed with Hepatitis C and needing to move to Columbia for treatment, but he did not have a home.
"You know how you go on vacation and it always feels good to get home? There is none of that," Steinmeyer said.
The VA gave him a place to stay and even a job. He credits his life to the hospital's and Welcome Home's help.
"Without this help the VA has given me, I'd probably be dead."
Sarah Froese said there are other veterans like Steinmeyer in need of help.
We're probably about 70 deep, I think, on veterans wanting permanent housing," Froese said.
Steinmeyer said the new apartments and shelter will help these veterans truly be welcomed home.
"If you send a man to war, I believe you should help him when he gets back."
The project is expected to welcome residents in the summer of 2015.
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