Old Fort Snelling buildings to house homeless vets

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK
  • Star Tribune
  • November 14, 2011 - 7:36 PM

Century-old buildings at Fort Snelling that sit vacant or are used for storage will be rehabbed into housing for homeless vets under a program announced Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As part of a nationwide effort to provide more than 5,300 units of housing for veterans, the VA announced plans to provide more than 90 rehabbed units and homes for Minnesota veterans in the Twin Cities and in St. Cloud.

A four-acre site on the Upper Post of Fort Snelling is expected to provide 58 rehabbed units for veterans and their families who have been homeless. In addition, plans are underway but have yet to be completed for 35 new houses for homeless veterans in the St. Cloud area.

The $10 million Minnesota efforts are expected to be completed in 2013.

The program is an effort to rehab unused VA land and buildings nationwide in support of the department's goal to end veterans' homelessness. Locating the projects on or near existing VA property is designed to make sure veterans and their families have easy access to VA treatment and resources.

The VA has entered agreements to provide more than 3,000 units of permanent and transitional housing for veterans at 25 VA medical center campuses nationwide. Another 1,000 units are pending; agreements are expected within the coming weeks and more than 1,000 are in operation or underway. Plans call for providing housing for homeless vets, seniors, disabled vets, and other at-risk veteran populations.

Third-party providers will be used to finance, design, develop, maintain and operate housing with on-site support services, the VA said in a release.

The contract for the Minnesota project was awarded to CommonBond Communities of St. Paul and Sand Cos. of St. Cloud. CommonBond, a nonprofit provider of affordable rental homes, will serve as the lead developer, while Sand will be the general contractor and architect.

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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