The U.S. is facing a growing affordable housing crisis, with rents continuing to rise while development of affordable rental properties lags far behind demand. Veterans are one of our most vulnerable populations in this escalating crisis, often returning from military service only to find high quality housing is scarce, if available at all.
An innovative partnership between The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has aided tremendously in this effort. Since 2008, the collaborative program has provided more than 87,000 total rental assistance vouchers to Veterans in need across the U.S. Today, innovative Veteran Housing programs are going even further by providing civilian transition and job training services to Veterans looking to re-enter the private sector.
As one of the nation’s largest owners and developers of affordable housing, Pennrose is proud to support our nation’s heroes – and this initiative – by building vibrant communities for Veterans to call home. This process starts well before construction begins. In Warner Robins, Georgia, Pennrose worked in tandem with local agencies and other community organizations to ensure our affordable housing development would fit the specific needs of the community we serve there.
In many cases, this also means incorporating supportive services and case management to help individuals with a variety of needs. For example, supportive services offered in a community can include everything from easy access to healthcare services and a direct connection to Veterans Affairs to hosting educational seminars. Having supportive services on-site improves the overall quality of life for residents.
Recently, Pennrose celebrated the grand opening of Residence at Roosevelt Park in Edison, New Jersey. The independent living community created 84 units of affordable housing for seniors, with 22 units designated as preferred status for Veterans. Within the complex, residents have access to a community room and fitness room, common laundry rooms, on-site maintenance superintendent, outdoor patio and residential gardening area. Specific units will also be set aside to serve individuals with disabilities.
There are two categories of veterans housing. Housing that is available to veterans and their families and housing that is age-restricted to individuals either 55 or 62 and older. Housing for families may include both veterans and current active military families, while age-restricted housing is helping people that have served in U.S. military conflicts.
In Warner Robins, Georgia, led by Amon Martin, senior developer and U.S. Air Force veteran, Pennrose is currently working on a unique program to support military personnel as they prepare to transition to the private workforce. As part of a public/private partnership with the City of Warner Robins and The Warner Robins Development Authority, Pennrose has been selected to develop a 90-unit mixed-income residential development adjacent to the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center (VECTR). The non-profit provides “a one-stop-shop for veterans seeking benefits, educational opportunities, employment services and links to community resources.” Through a collaboration with Pennrose, several of the units will be set aside to house Veterans as they partake in multi-week and semester long programs offered across the street at VECTR. This “student housing” option greatly reduces the cost to Veterans, and eliminates the need for them to secure their own housing while participating in the program. By removing barriers like costly housing, our hope is that more Veterans can successfully complete these skill-building programs that will support them in their future endeavors.
In addition to these developments, Pennrose has other veteran projects in the pipeline in Edison, NJ, at Camp Kilmer a former military base, Dover, NJ, and Bensalem, PA. With all our Veteran housing developments across our portfolio, Pennrose is taking steps support the specific needs of Veterans as defined within individual communities. Investing in areas to create excellent housing options and offering tailored resources will change lives and neighborhoods for the better.