We are only a few months away from the opening of Veterans Commons, a permanent supportive housing site this facility to provide some of our City’s most vulnerable veterans with comprehensive care and onsite services. Veterans Commons at 150 Otis Street, which has been in development for the past three years, is coming to fruition thanks to support from our community partners. Chronically homeless veterans, many with serious health issues, will have a second chance and a place to call home.
The staff at Swords to Plowshares and our partners in VA who will play a role in delivering onsite services, share a firm dedication to reaching our nation’s goal of ending veteran homelessness. The partnership of these public, private and non-profit agencies to work in tandem towards a common vision is unprecedented.
Funding & Support
The construction to rehab this historic landmark building incorporates federal support from low-income housing and historic tax credits and the Federal Home Loan Bank. The state provided funds through the California Mental Health Services Act. The municipal resources include the land and building from the City of San Francisco and funds from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Redevelopment Agency. Private funding though equity funds from Wells Fargo is a great resource as well.
We are in the final three months of a lengthy construction period that began in March 2011. Finishing touches are being put on the apartments, tile is being laid in the corridors, and one of the three new elevators is now operable. Work is being done on the first floor clinic and community room and kitchen while the Spanish tile roof is being removed in order to place new membrane beneath the tile, after which the original tiles will be replaced. The building is in the process of being painted. Soon work will begin on the two rear decks.
In addition to our key partners, we also received support through corporate donors who are committed to supporting veterans and their families. A recent grant from the Home Depot Foundation has help to fund this renovation of this surplus city property along with collaboration with the City of San Francisco.
We also received a generous donation of new mattresses from Tempur-Pedic through Good360.org. Other furnishings have been ordered and are anticipated to begin being delivered in early October, ahead of the October 18th completion date.
Other grants and funding through our partners has been instrumental for the services for the necessary services to be offered on-site. The renovated space is only half the story: we are “renovating” the way services are available through unprecedented collaboration.
A Model of Collaboration
We have advocating for project-based permanent supportive housing for many years and are now seeing our vision become reality. This effort has relied on so many agencies partnering together to tackle the problem, maximize collaboration and our ability to impact veterans in need: city agencies such as the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Redevelopment Agency, Department of Public Health, Human Services Agency, and the Chinatown Community Development Center; federal agencies including HUD and the VA, and our non-profit and private partners.
We have come together because we recognize that we need many hands to lift and keep our at-risk veteran population out of homelessness and look forward to ongoing collaboration to eliminate veteran homelessness.