A New Place to Call Home for Chronically Homeless, Senior Veterans

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Groundbreaking Ceremony for Veterans Commons at 150 Otis Street

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For Vietnam-era veterans who have suffered for decades -- permanent housing and wrap-around care is the solution that will save their lives.

Swords to Plowshares and Chinatown Community Development Center are partnering to develop permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless, senior veterans in San Francisco.

A groundbreaking ceremony on November 9, 2010 will mark the next stage for the much-needed housing program, Veterans Commons. Spearheaded by community-based non-profit organizations, Swords to Plowshares -- a veteran service agency -- and Chinatown Community Development Center -- an established developer -- the housing project will provide 75 chronically homeless and senior veterans with permanent homes and wrap-around care.

“We look forward to breaking ground on Veterans Commons with the community and local leaders who have helped make this project possible,” said Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares’ Executive Director. “This is a critical step for the City and community to reduce homelessness and poverty among veterans.”

The future residents of Veterans Commons will be single homeless veterans who are disabled by mental illness, chronic substance abuse, HIV, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, other severe mental health disorders, and/or physical disability. On-site supportive services will be tailored to meet the specialized needs of the residents.

“This population is aged beyond their years due to long-term poverty, a lack of preventive healthcare, and repeated trauma," said Blecker. “Therefore, it is critical that these aging Vietnam-era veterans get off the streets before it is too late.”

The property for Veterans Commons, a landmark building located at 150 Otis Street, was made available through the City’s Surplus Property program. Funders for Veterans Commons, scheduled to open in 2012, include: Corporation for Supportive Housing, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program.

“We're very excited to be working with Swords to transform this surplus City property into critically needed housing for our homeless veterans," said Gordon Chin, Chinatown CDC's Executive Director.

“For the last twenty years, the City and Mayor’s Office of Housing have helped us provide supportive housing to thousands of homeless veterans,” said Blecker. “We are thrilled to have continued support and look forward to working in collaboration with the community to address the urgent needs of this population of veterans.”

In addition to Swords to Plowshares’ existing supportive housing programs, which provide homes to hundreds of veterans each year, Veterans Commons will contribute to San Francisco’s efforts to significantly reduce veteran homelessness.

“After more than 30 years working with at-risk veterans in San Francisco, I know what it takes to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Blecker. “For Vietnam-era veterans who have suffered for decades -- permanent housing and wrap-around care is the solution that will save their lives.”

About Swords to Plowshares

Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, employment and training, housing and legal assistance to homeless and low-income veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Swords promotes and protects the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state and national entities.

War causes wounds and suffering that last beyond the battlefield. Our mission is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to reduce homelessness and poverty among veterans. Learn more about the work of Swords to Plowshares, and ways in which you can help, by visiting our website at http://www.stp-sf.org .

About Chinatown Community Development Center

Chinatown Community Development Center has a 33 year history of providing community organizing, planning, youth development, housing development, property management and tenant services to communities across San Francisco.

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Colleen Corliss
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