Since arriving in Boulder County about two years ago, the Veterans Community Project has been looking for a brick and mortar location to call home.
The association, which innovated last year on a community of mini halfway houses for homeless veterans, has also helped provide basic services to its clients, while working from their cars and temporary offices.
This week, the Kansas City-based nonprofit had the chance to officially establish itself in Longmont. The Veterans Community Project has moved to 1228 Main Street, the former location of the Longmont Housing Authority. Paul Melroy, executive director of the Veterans Community Project Colorado, said that despite the lack of a physical location, the nonprofit has helped 19 veterans find homes and served 110 veterans in the last year. Having a home base will give the nonprofit the power to provide services to even more people, he said.
The approximately 2,000 square foot ADA-compliant building will be a place for veterans to go to get help with services and a base for case managers working on the streets.
“We’re a people business and it’s very difficult to do what we’re doing remotely,” Melroy said. “We really can’t serve homeless veterans remotely. We are used to a lot of face to face interactions, including with our staff. It’s amazing after over a year for all of us to be in one place.
Harold Dominguez, city manager and executive director of the Longmont Housing Authority, said the lease between the city and the Veterans Community Project was finalized this week.
“As we take a look at the work we all do to serve homeless people, I think it’s great that they have a place to operate and serve homeless veterans,” Dominguez said. “We can’t wait for them to complete their other project with the Mini-Houses and become another organization that we partner with to serve our community. “
As of last year, Dominguez said the city has started working to integrate the Longmont Housing Authority into its operations. The new location of the Housing Authority is in the city’s civic center. Dominguez said the city will manage the 10 housing authority residence units behind the office building.
Melroy said staff hope the Main Street office will be open by June, with an open house scheduled for July.
About half a million dollars in donations still needed
The new office location has already been used this week. Gathered around a table on Thursday, staff from the Veterans Community Project met Thursday alongside members of the Veterans Housing Coalition to share updates, including progress on the community of Veterans. small houses for veterans facing homelessness. The coalition formed in 2018, after members of Longmont city council voted to participate in the Mayors’ challenge to end homelessness for veterans – a national appeal to help homeless veterans. Its members have also worked to help veterans, including working with the Veterans Community Project.
The cottage community will be built on approximately 2 acres of property located just off South Anderson Street, near Rogers Road and west of Hover Street. HMS Development developers donate land and infrastructure for the project.
HMS Development partner Jake Spencer said the final construction drawings have been handed over and submitted to the city. Although he said it was too early to announce official construction dates, he said he expected work to start at the end of this month or early June.
“We’re going to start and hopefully not have to stop until we’ve built some houses,” Spencer said.
It would cost around $ 5 million to build the small house community. Melroy said about half a million dollars was still needed, with donations from businesses, churches, individuals and foundations. He said each of the houses are sponsored for around $ 35,000 each. The Veterans Housing Coalition is also sponsoring a house and is working to raise an additional $ 10,000 in donations by the end of June. Those interested in donating to the effort can visit the Longmont Community Foundation website at: fondationlongmont.org and select donate then “veterans village” or donate on the VCP website at: veteranscommunityproject.org.
The village will feature 26 mini-homes, including five 320-square-foot family units and 21 240-square-foot single-family homes. The houses will be complete with furniture and appliances. Veterans will also have access to case management, to help them transition from the mini-house and find permanent housing. A 3,000-foot community center, where veterans can find support services, is also part of the community’s design.
The village is also part of a larger development on approximately 65 acres that will include the construction of eight Habitat for Humanity homes and 450 adjacent condos, townhouses and single-family homes.
The Veterans Community Project was founded by combat veterans, with the goal of helping every man and woman who has taken an oath to serve their country, regardless of where they served or their release status.
Bryan Meyer, CEO and Co-Founder of the Veterans Community Project, visited Longmont this week and attended Thursday’s meeting, alongside Brandon Mixon, Project Manager and Co-Founder.
“We are extremely happy to open another location where we can have a walk-in clientele,” said Meyer. “But more importantly, thank everyone in this room who contributed with the momentum and immense ability it takes to make something like this succeed.”
How to help:
Donate to the Longmont Community Foundation ‘Veterans Village’ to help the Veterans Housing Coalition sponsor a cottage at: fondationlongmont.org
Sign up for volunteer opportunities or donate to: Veteranscommunityproject.org/vcp-colorado