Public/private partnership creates affordable housing with key services and a sense of community in prime location
Menlo Park, Calif., November 5, 2015 — A press conference will take place Tuesday, November 10th to showcase the completion of an important new veterans’ housing community. Core Affordable Housing, along with its partners, the Veterans Administration and EAH Housing, will unveil its Willow Housing development, part of an innovative movement in veterans housing that emphasizes the co-location of affordable housing with the key support services these veterans need. Along with programs designed for veterans, the project’s finishing touches like granite countertops, mature oaks, and serene walking paths are designed to reaffirm the dignity of its future residents. Willow Housing is located on the edge of the VA’s Menlo Park campus, part of the federal BURR Initiative that seeks to identify and repurpose underutilized VA land and buildings in support of the VA’s goal to end veteran homelessness.
The 60-unit complex, designed in partnership with veterans themselves, is an affordable housing alternative that was created specifically to provide a healthy, supportive environment for veterans close to the services they need. In conjunction with the BURR Initiative, a Congressional effort to eliminate the nationwide housing crisis among veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs selected Core Affordable Housing in 2011 to develop a two-acre portion of the VA’s Menlo Park campus. In addition to CORE, the development team includes EAH Housing to manage leasing, maintenance, and operations, and HomeFirst, which will provide specialized supportive services in-house.
While significant strides have been made to end veteran homelessness in the region, there is an ongoing need. In 2015 nearly 800 veterans in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are estimated to be sleeping outdoors, in vehicles, or in shelters. Often suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders or other disabilities relating to their military service, these are men and women who have served our country. While health services designed for veterans and programs that aim to end homelessness play an important role, the key to success is the availability of permanent affordable homes with supportive programming accessible on site and nearby. Without access to well-located and supportive housing, managing health, transportation between jobs and doctor’s appointments can be overwhelming, if not logistically impossible.
“At VA we have a dedicated team of professionals who work tirelessly to end veteran homelessness,” says Lisa Freeman, Medical Center Director, VA Palo Alto Health Care System. “However, it is important and imperative that VA continue working with community partners to truly fix the problem. Public-private partnerships like this are a perfect example of what a community, VA included, can accomplish when working together.”
Chris Neale, Vice President of The Core Companies, adds, “We are proud and honored to create a community that is much more than affordable housing; it’s a path to a better future for our veterans. We hope to share our best practices and successes with others across the country so they, too, can benefit from this model.”
The Willow Housing development has a singular focus: veterans. In 2012, CORE engaged formerly homeless and at-risk veterans for focus groups in order to design housing specifically suited to their needs. A close partnership with the VA helped inform the services that will be provided. The living environment at Willow is designed to be mutually supportive, as veterans will be living alongside peers who have an intimate understanding of the physical, social and medical struggles that can be lonely and isolating in civilian life, as well as personal strategies to maintain health and stability. The community will also feature artwork by veteran artist, Paul Bouchard, including an outdoor sculpture.
While each unit is furnished with a basic bed, table, and chairs, any corporate sponsors willing to assist in enhancing these homes’ furnishings are asked to contact EAH at [email protected]
The development is placed on the edge of the VA campus in Menlo Park, which makes it close to VA healthcare services, public transportation and the Menlo Park community. Within the complex, veterans will have access to a comprehensive array of support and community services including a full-time case manager when appropriate, combined with staff and volunteers who will help residents maintain their housing and increase their self-sufficiency within the community. Says Mary Murtagh, President and CEO of EAH Housing, “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.”
In addition to services, residents of this beautifully designed building located in the center of Menlo Park will have access to a business center with computers to support job searches, a multi-purpose room, conference rooms for small meetings or private counseling, and a fitness center, along with outdoor spaces for group meals and social gatherings. Spaces are centrally located to promote social interaction and minimize isolation.
The November 10th press conference takes place at 11:00 a.m. at the Willow Housing development. Speakers will include Chris Neale, Vice President of The Core Companies; Lisa Freeman, VA Director in Palo Alto; Mary Murtagh, President and CEO of EAH Housing, and Christopher Madaras, a formerly homeless veteran. A short tour of the facility will follow, along with interview opportunities.
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.
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.”
For more information, visit the Willow Housing property page.