Veterans struggling with chronic homelessness will soon have access to new housing as construction got underway on Tuesday on a 100-unit efficiency apartment complex on the campus of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
With an expected completion date of summer 2017, the $14.3 million project, known as Veterans East and developed by the nonprofit Community Housing Development Corp. (CHDC), will provide on-site support services for health care, case management, life skills, financial management, VA benefits, and education and employment resources.
The effort is the latest in a series of collaborations among local, state and federal government agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector to address veteran homelessness. Last week, the federal government announced the number of homeless veterans in the United States had been cut nearly in half since 2010. A Department of Housing and Urban Development estimate of homeless veterans in Minnesota showed a 29 percent decline in unsheltered veterans from January 2015 to January 2016.
Since January 2015, Minnesota has kept a registry of homeless veterans to help identify opportunities for housing and other services. So far, 600 vets have been housed, but it is estimated more than 200 vets remain chronically homeless.
“I can’t underscore how important this strategy has been in helping us to come toward ending homelessness one veteran at a time,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, speaking at the groundbreaking.
Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group is the project’s largest private investor, providing $5.2 million in equity using low-income housing tax credits approved by the state. The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, which finances affordable housing, is providing $7.7 million in deferred loan funds. Additional funding comes from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, Hennepin County, affiliates of CHDC and $290,000 in energy and sales tax rebates.
Eligible veterans — those who have experienced chronic homelessness — will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent.
The five-story building will also have a community room with a fireplace, a kitchenette and laundry facilities.
It is located across Minnehaha Avenue from the VA hospital, making it easier for veterans to access resources.