An article in The Washington Post details a new kind of partnership between affordable housing developers and the American Legion, a vets’ organization, to turn an old legion hall into 160 apartments, half reserved for homeless and at-risk military veterans. Says Deborah Burkart, of LISC/NEF’s Bring Them HOMES initiative, “this could be an example others follow”—under-used American Legion facilities across the country might provide a similar resource for creating safe and much-need homes for our ex-servicemen and women.
Affordable Housing Finance profiled 10 women who’ve shaped the industry, including NEF’s Debbie Burkart. The piece highlights her work on behalf of homeless veterans and her leadership of Bring Them HOMES. Says Burkart, “It has been important to me, someone who has benefited from a safety net, to build one for others who have not.”
The Chesapeake Veterans House in Southeast Washington, D.C. puts a roof over the heads of some 60 formerly homeless vets. But the facility, which opened in 1999, needs some TLC of its own. Thanks to grants from Citi Community Development (through LISC/NEF's Bring Them HOMES veterans housing initiative) and Home Depot, the ex-servicemen who live there will soon have a new roof—as well as renovated bathrooms and improved security.
Architects have long known that the aesthetics of our surroundings have a profound effect on quality of life. Community developers are in on the secret, too. Such was the goal in transforming a dilapidated 1925 building in central Milwaukee, with LISC’s help, into a comfy, light-flooded resource center for vets at risk of homelessness, according to a Journal Sentinel article.
The Obama Administration has made it a national priority to end homelessness among veterans. But, getting that done takes much more than a government commitment. It requires a careful balance of responsive public policies and focused private and nonprofit partners—all aligned to develop housing and services that help veterans reclaim their lives. Debbie Burkart, who leads LISC's Bring them HOMES veterans initiative, talks about both sides of this equation in Veterans Day articles for Affordable Housing Finance and Next City. "Permanent supporting housing is an invaluable resource for healing and bringing hope to the men and women who served our country," she says.