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New apartment complex for homeless veterans to open at Fort Snelling

Saint Paul Pioneer Press - 9/20/2017

Sept. 20--A new apartment complex aimed at assisting Minnesota's homeless military veterans is scheduled to open this week.

A five-story, 100-unit affordable housing community located near the VA Medical Center at Fort Snelling will celebrate its grand opening Wednesday. The complex will help connect residents with health services, education and job training.

"The need is great, and these 100 units, while they don't solve the entire problem, they ... make a dent," said Elizabeth Flannery, president of the Community Housing Development Corporation, which developed the project.

About 8 percent of Minnesota's homeless adults are military veterans, according to the most recent homeless count by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. But the problem has been improving -- the number of homeless Minnesota veterans has dropped by 57 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The $14.3 million project, dubbed Veterans East, was funded by several public and private-sector partners. UnitedHealth Group contributed $5.2 million in equity while Minnesota Housing provided $7.7 million in deferred loans. Other contributors include Federal Home Loan Bank in Des Moines, Iowa, Hennepin County and Community Housing Development Corporation affiliates. The land's 50-year lease is being covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Affordable housing is at a premium in the Twin Cities. Apartment vacancy rates in the region are below 3 percent, noted a recent report by the Metropolitan Council, which notes "when vacancy rates are low, rents go up."

"There's a lack of affordable housing for everybody ... right now. I think we are in a serious housing crisis," Flannery said.

"These 100 units are extremely important," she added.

Residents will move into the new complex over the next few weeks. Each will be greeted with a "welcome basket" with household supplies.

Rents will average around $420 per month for the apartments, which are roughly 400 square feet. There are also computer stations, a laundry facility and a community room for residents. And on-site service coordinators will connect residents with health care, education, financial management and employment needs.

Wednesday's ribbon cutting will begin at 1 p.m. at the complex, located at 5019 E. 54th St. in Minneapolis.


(c)2017 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)

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