For homeless veterans in Raleigh, 10 new units of housing will become home.
By Holly West
A new housing development in Raleigh is making a home for veterans who have fallen on hard times.
Residents, community members and staff from CASA, an affordable housing agency, gathered at a new Sunnybrook Road development Wednesday to celebrate the completion of 10 apartments for disabled veterans.
Walter Brown, a 53-year-old Army veteran who’s been homeless for years, is one of ten people who will move into the complex in July.
“It’s a very upgraded place where you can live comfortably and in peace,” he said. “It will allow me to get my life back in order and do the things I need to do to be part of society again.”
The building’s ten one-bedroom units each have a bedroom, bathroom, laundry room and combination kitchen/living room.
Wake County commissioner Phil Matthews, who spoke at the opening, said projects like this help homeless veterans get back on their feet and find jobs.
“All they’re asking for is a hand up, not a handout,” he said.
Each apartment will be stocked with kitchen and bathroom supplies courtesy of the Wake Forest chapter of Ladies of Valor. The Ladies also made quilts for each of the ten residents.
Anthony Herbin, a 63-year-old Army veteran who will be living at Sunnybrook, said he is grateful for the work that CASA does.
“It helps a lot of people,” he said. “I’m going to try to do all I can do to help give back.”
Brown said he has a lot of doctors’ appointments, so the location of the development, right around the corner from the Raleigh Veterans’ Affairs clinic, couldn’t be better.
“I’ve got the VA clinic right beside us,” he said. “Then you’ve got the social services place and [WakeMed] hospital down there. It’s hard to get transportation to get back and forth to the doctor so this works out perfect.”
Quality Housing at a Low Price
In an effort to keep the housing affordable, residents will get help making their rent payments. They will be responsible for contributing 30 percent of their income in rent. The rest will be covered by vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Administration Supportive Housing program, known as HUD-VASH.
Raleigh-based nonprofit organization CASA has developed and managed housing for disabled and low-income individuals since 1992. This will be the first of CASA’s developments to specifically house homeless veterans.
Debbie White, CASA’s chief financial officer, said the payment will be about $200 a month for many residents whose only income is their disability check.
White said the budget for the entire project was $1.3 million.
HUD-VASH funded $400,000 of the project. The city of Raleigh and Wake County contributed about $425,000 each.
An Incredible Need
CASA CEO Debra King said the project at 313 Sunnybrook Road is just the first phase of the Sunnybrook neighborhood. Construction on the second ten-unit building will start in the fall.
King said it won’t be hard to find residents for the new building – CASA has a backlog of over 600 people, many of them veterans, waiting to get into homes.
“When we open a development, we’re already fully leased,” she said. “The need is so incredible.”
Eugene Weeks, mayor pro-tempore of Raleigh and a veteran, told those who attended the opening that CASA will continue to work towards its goal of ending homelessness.
“There may be many reasons for homelessness, but none are acceptable,” he said.