Located at the edge of the Veterans Administration campus in Menlo Park, Willow Housing is part of the federal BURR Initiative to address veterans’ homelessness by identifying and repurposing underutilized VA land and buildings for veteran housing. This 60-unit complex is an affordable housing alternative that was created to provide high-quality, accessible homes in a supportive environment for veterans close to the essential services many depend on. The project was developed by Core Affordable Housing in partnership with EAH Housing, which manages leasing, maintenance, and operations; and HomeFirst, which provides specialized supportive services in-house. It was designed specifically for the needs of veterans, even featuring original commissioned art by veteran artists.
Willow Housing is representative of the VA’s ongoing commitment to end veteran homelessness and the ceaseless efforts of staff to seek housing and address the continuum of care for veterans in need throughout the community. The development embodies the nationally recognized concept of “housing first,” in which permanent, affordable homes provide the stability necessary for homeless and at-risk veterans to access the support they need for an improved quality of life. With case management services on site, residents also have access to nearby VA healthcare services, public transportation, and the Menlo Park community.
“This project could not have happened without our community partners, including the City of Menlo Park and the County of San Mateo,” says Lisa Freeman, Medical Center Director of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. “They laid the groundwork for the fruitful public-private partnership that made a development like Willow Housing possible.”
Adds Chris Neale, Vice President of The Core Companies, “Affordable homes for veterans at low and very low income levels are in scarce supply but critically needed. It’s the difference between health and chronic illness, stability and stress. It’s the first step.”
Mary Murtagh, President and CEO of EAH Housing, says, “We know that Willow Housing will make a difference every day for our veterans, their families, and for Menlo Park. We share a goal with our partners: to serve those who have served us.”
Residents, who began moving in last December, know what Willow Housing means firsthand. One veteran, who spent 12 years on the streets, describes the feeling of having his own place: “I’m confident about myself, my abilities, and my new-found freedom.”
The Grand Opening Ceremonies were held on Thursday, February 18th, at 11:00 am. A color guard kicked off a short program followed by self-guided tours that showcased veteran services, veteran artists and their work, and the partnerships which made Willow Housing possible.
Established in 1989, The Core Companies is a vertically integrated real estate development and construction firm. Core Affordable Housing specializes in development of below-market-rate properties, through partnerships with public agencies, non-profit organizations, and private financing institutions. Their focus is on enhancing the quality of life for their residents, promoting a sense of community, and playing a positive role in the fabric of the neighborhoods they create.
About EAH Housing
Established in 1968, EAH Housing has become one of the largest and most respected nonprofit housing development and management organizations in the western United States. EAH develops low-income housing, manages over 100 properties in California and Hawaii, and plays a leadership role in local, regional and national housing advocacy efforts.
About the Veterans Administration
The VA Palo Alto Health Care System consists of three inpatient facilities located at Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Livermore and seven outpatient clinics in San Jose, Capitola, Monterey, Stockton, Modesto, Sonora and Fremont. These nationally recognized facilities provide award-winning medical care and cutting-edge technology. Along with its academic affiliate at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the more than 6,200 staff and volunteers operate nearly 900 beds, including three nursing homes and a 100-bed homeless domiciliary, demonstrating to over 85,000 enrolled veterans that it is truly “Serving those who Served."