In Fall of 2011, Eugene, Oregon community leaders from the City of Eugene, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Lane County Home Builders Association and St. Vincent de Paul came together to address the challenges many veterans face in making the transition to civilian life after deployment. Finding a suitable place to live can be one of the biggest barriers to successful reintegration.
Eager to create a program to help support local veterans returning from overseas, they explored the idea of providing affordable, temporary housing to help get veterans' feet back on civilian ground. That idea has become reality very quickly and the Veterans’ Housing Project (VHP) currently provides five homes to qualifying veterans’ families, is currently working on a sixth, and plans to continue expanding.
The VHP acquires properties at little or no cost and fixes them up through the sweat equity of volunteer individuals, professionals, businesses, public and non-profit organizations and service clubs.
Using financial and material donations and low interest financing from partners, the VHP acquired its first two houses, foreclosed homes that had been vacant for years, from Lane County for below market prices. The homes were rehabilitated in less than four months, thanks to a volunteer army of hundreds who donated over 2500 hours of work. Home Builders Association, Ehlers Construction, Lane County, EWEB, the City of Eugene, St. Vincent de Paul, University of Oregon sports teams, college youth groups, Rotary Clubs, VOX PRPA and dozens of individuals all pitched in. After completion homes are rented at substantially reduced rates for up to two years.
In April 2012 two more homes were brought into the VHP through an inventive lease arrangement with the Bethel School District. The Home Builders Association of Lane County led the renovation of these two properties.
Another home was donated by and moved from Lane County-owned property, renovated, and now houses a veteran's family. Our sixth home was purchased with a generous gift from Northwest Community Credit Union and is currently under renovation.
A $75,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation gave us funds to use toward renovation of five homes.
Future homes will be acquired using other creative means, and may be similarly adopted for rehabilitation by other community organizations.
As it rapidly gains support and momentum, the VHP’s vision is to build a replicable model that can help establish similar community-based programs in other cities. Also crucial is finding ways to acquire properties at little or no cost to facilitate long term sustainability with little outside funding.
To date we have six homes in the VHP and we’re looking for more. We invite you to join us and become a part of this inspiring program. You can participate in several ways: join the fun with a Saturday morning work party; talk to us if you have a home you’d be willing to loan or donate; consider professional or significant financial sponsorship of the program; check into the benefits of contributing to a charitable cause; donate supplies and other materials that can be used to renovate future homes. Join us in saying “WELCOME HOME VETERANS AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.”
For more information e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.