Welcome Home to help more veterans with new grant
COLUMBIA — Construction on a brand new Welcome Home support center is underway. The Missouri Housing Trust Fund gave Welcome Home a $120,000 grant for the construction of the new facility and service center at 2120 East Business Loop 70.
The project will allow Welcome Home Inc. to serve up to 32 male and female veterans as well as veterans with families.
“With their support and the generous support of our community, we are closing in on finishing our capital campaign. The addition of this grant leaves us with just $152,000 left to raise,” said Welcome Home's executive director, Tim Rich.
Welcome Home Inc., partners with Patriot Place apartments – a 24-bedroom apartment facility that provides permanent housing exclusively for veterans. One Vietnam War veteran who received help from the group said he is happy to see addition.
"I think it's about time that people stood up for veterans, I mean, there's too many veterans being forgotten and left on the side of the road, you know what I mean," Herbert Hepler said. "The City of Columbia is actually trying to look out for the veterans finally."
Hepler, 62, served in Germany from 1973-1979. He currently lives in Patriot Place apartments. The apartment comes fully furnished. He was one of the first four people who got moved to live there when it first opened.
Patriot Place was just phase one of the Welcome Home Veterans Project. Phase two includes an expanded facility to Welcome Home, which will serve as a veterans’ service and support center that provides emergency, transitional, rapid-rehousing, and homeless prevention services just for veterans.
Last year, the agency turned away 92 eligible veterans due to a lack of sleeping space.
Rich said, "That's heartbreaking when you have to turn a veteran away, knowing that they are eligible and they need the service."
Welcome Home serves 124 veterans and has an 80 percent success rate, according to Rich. It typically houses veterans for 6 months or less if it finds permanent housing for them.
The current Welcome Home facility provides 11 beds and shelter along with support and prevention services, often sleeping as many as 13 veterans per night.
A grand opening of the new Welcome Home facility will be held on July 20 at 10 a.m.
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