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Vets’ Housing Project letter from City Manager Jon Ruiz

Categories: Housing, Veterans
Author: Jon R. Ruiz, City Manager
Date: Thursday, September 29 2011
Jon Ruiz, City Manager, at work on one of the houses

Juine Chada (Senator Wyden’s office), Terry McDonald (St Vincent de Paul), Ed McMahon (Home Builders Association), Brenda Wilson (City of Eugene), Roger Gray (EWEB), Pat Walsh (VOX Communications) and I are developing and implementing a “habitat for humanity” type project for veterans.  The project will provide low-cost rental housing for veterans transitioning back to civilian life, particularly head-of-household women with children.  Maintaining financial and social self-sufficiency upon arriving in the community is out of reach for some veterans.  Providing affordable housing for up to two years can ease the transition burden, and allow time to financially and socially stabilize their families.  The vision is to build a model of community-based support of veterans’ housing that could be replicated inside of Eugene as well as in other communities around the country.  

The project supports, but is different than, St. Vinnie’s successful Vet-Lift initiative, which generally targets homeless and near homeless veterans who may have been members of the community for many years. No program specifically targets the affordable housing needs for transitioning veterans who need time to adjust.  Our project will fill this gap. 

We are targeting “distressed” properties, such as single-family (possibly multiple-family) foreclosed properties, that can be acquired at a low cost, fixed up and then rented at a low cost.  St. Vincent DePaul (SVdP) will acquire, own and manage the properties. EWEB has offered to use its programs to provide energy efficiency improvements to make ongoing utility costs more affordable. The City will assist with home repair and rehabilitation monies as appropriate; however, the intent is for most of the work to be completed by community volunteers.

SVdP has acquired two foreclosed single-family properties.  An initial assessment of rehab work has been completed. The main work needed at these homes is general fixing up and restoration with some “skilled/licensed” work such as an electrical panel and possibly a roof. EWEB performed an initial energy assessment of the properties and provided SVDP program applications.  Randy Lodge of Ehlers Construction will be the General Contractor.  Work has begun on the homes, and we anticipate cutting the ribbon on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011.

Donations are in care of St. Vincent DePaul, Tax ID # 93-0454786.

Sincerely,

Jon Ruiz, City Manager