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Veterans Transition Center’s 71-unit Housing Project in Marina Gets $7.3M

Veterans Transition Center’s 71-unit Housing Project in Marina Gets $7.3M

Lightfighter Village would provide housing to veterans, their spouses, and formerly homeless vets                

Monterey Herald
By James Herrera | August 06, 2020

MARINA — EAH Housing announced it was awarded more than $110 million to aid in the construction of new affordable housing communities on Thursday, and $7.3 million of that amount was awarded to the Lightfighter Village project at the Veterans Transition Center in Marina by Affordable Housing Program and No Place Like Home.

“The VTC is very pleased, as it shows the strong partnerships and extensive commitments needed to fulfill such a significant project,” said Kurt Schake, executive director of the Veterans Transition Center. “Lightfighter Village is now funded by the state and the county. A key requirement will be project-based vouchers, making this the first veteran-specific housing project on the Central Coast.”

EAH Housing is a nonprofit housing development and management organization. It has developed 95 properties and manages 8,900 unit leases in 55 municipalities in California and Hawaii.

The nonprofit was awarded 15 grants and loans from a variety of sources totaling $110 million for 10 developments in nine cities throughout California, including two in Monterey County.

Greenfield Commons in Greenfield was awarded more than $19.8 million from the Joe Serna Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant program, which is the only state funding source dedicated solely to the production of permanently affordable housing for families in the agriculture industry. Nearly half of the 222 apartment homes in the proposed development will rent to agricultural workers and their families living in the Salinas Valley, according to a press release from EAH Housing.

Lightfighter Village in Marina is a $40 million project of the Veterans Transition Center and EAH Housing that would develop a three-story, 71-unit housing structure on 2.3 acres of land giving homeless veterans a place to live in perpetuity with no transitional requirements while they continue to receive case management and access to support services.

EAH Housing is the developer of Lightfighter Village and will manage the property once it is built and residents have moved in.

“The timing of construction start will be dependent on the project’s award of the remaining targeted sources,” said Ethan Daniels, EAH Housing’s senior project manager. “But if those applications are successful, estimated start date would be around July 2022 and completion would be around March 2024.”

Daniels said the nonprofit will be targeting four remaining sources for funding the VTC project.

“First will be a request for Project Based Vouchers from the Housing Authority of the County of Monterey. Next will be an Infill Infrastructure Grant through the California Department of Housing and Community Development,” said Daniels. “Next will be a loan through HCD’s Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention program. Last will be an application for tax exempt bonds and low income housing tax credits.”

The Lightfighter Village project previously received a $70,000 grant through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation coordinated by National Equity Fund Inc. in 2015.

The housing site in Marina is located on Hayes Circle and is within a half-mile of transit, employment, shopping and the Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense outpatient clinic as well as the Veterans Transition Center headquarters at Martinez Hall on what was once the Fort Ord Army base.

The project was unanimously approved by the city of Marina in November 2018.

Lightfighter Village is named after the 7th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army that was primarily based at Fort Ord and would be part of the 10 acres of land the Veterans Transition Center uses for its operations including its emergency, transitional and permanent housing programs and other services for veterans.

Schake said the funds bring the Veterans Transition Center closer to ending veteran homelessness in Monterey County.

“We will be only the second California county to reach ‘Functional Zero,’ a term from the Department of Veteran Affairs when no veteran is forced to be homeless,” said Schake.

According to federal data, there are 172 homeless veterans in Monterey County. The Veterans Transition Center currently houses 113 veterans in emergency, transitional and permanent housing programs. The additional units Lightfighter Village will provide for permanent housing will help to attain the “Functional Zero” milestone.

“In addition, the Monterey Enhanced Use Lease project at the old VA Clinic will add additional permanent housing and become a Center of Excellence for Veterans services,” said Schake. “There are 15 state and local agencies interested in using the site to provide a range of services to veterans, such as job training, transportation, benefits, counseling, and employment.”

At the end of 2019, the Veterans Transition Center was selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs “to develop safe, affordable housing for veterans and their families with priority placement” at the site of the former VA Monterey Community Outpatient Clinic on land adjacent to CSU Monterey Bay.

Daniels said that EAH Housing’s goal is to bring much needed affordable housing to Monterey County.

“We are very proud and excited to be partnering with the VTC on this development,” said Daniels.