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NWCU, Seneca Sawmill Integral To Latest Veteran Houses

Categories: Email Newsletter, Housing, Veterans, Volunteers
Author: SVdP staff
Date: Tuesday, June 23 2015


Watch Seneca Sawmill's video from the grand opening of the Seneca House.

In 2013 NWCU President John Iglesias stood outside a dilapidated house and recalled his own challenges as a young veteran returning from active duty. At right, Mr. Iglesias with NCWU staff and directors on the porch of that same house, fully rehabilitated and offered for sale to a veteran family.

Before there was talk of ending veteran homelessness, a Eugene-based group was already working mightily on the issue. That would be the Veterans’ Housing Project (VHP) which this spring completed the latest of seven homes: One newly built near downtown Eugene and another a major rehab project just off the Northwest Expressway.

The former is already home to a veteran family; the latter will be offered as a home-ownership opportunity.

In each case, a local company came forward with a generous offer that launched the project. Seneca Sawmill Company made a substantial contribution of money and materials to the new construction; the other, in Santa Clara, was a solidly built but neglected structure purchased with funds provided by Northwest Community Credit Union.

men posing for picture
Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz displays a modest token of appreciation to NWCCU, which was accepted by John Iglesias, right.

In 2013, NWCU President John Iglesias stood outside that dilapidated house and recalled his own experience as a young Air Force veteran returning from active duty, trying to reintegrate, reacquaint with family, and regain his footing in a changed economy.

“Even the simplest things are hard,” he said. “When you have a young child, a wife, there’s not only the adjustment but also difficulty in providing for them.”

His sentiments were shared by NWCU’s Board of Directors which had already pledged to help Lane County’s veterans and made good by donating the $75,000 used to purchase the older “Hansen Lane house.”

Meanwhile the operators of Seneca Sawmill took on the veteran cause, committing the money and resources, and partnering with the local firm Neil Kelly for new construction on property leased long-term to St. Vincent de Paul by the Lane County Fair Board. A showcase for sustainable forestry and local industry, the Seneca House would please the 60-year-old company’s late founder Aaron Jones, according to a video that commemorates the project.

man standing in doorway

Gulf War veteran Samson Smith welcomes well-wishers into the Seneca House, where he and his family will live affordably for up to two years.


The Seneca House’s grand opening was also a first look for Samson Smith, his wife, and his mother who are now its occupants. Mr. Smith served during the Gulf War and was delighted with the location and garden space.

The house came complete with a patriotic-themed quilt that literally arrived “out of the blue” from community member Rita Davis.

Six of the seven houses completed through the Veterans Housing Project serve as affordable rentals for up to two years while veterans access services and reintegrate into family and community. The Hansen Lane House is being offered as a home-ownership opportunity for a veteran family.

The Veterans' Housing Project founding organizations are the City of Eugene, EWEB, the Home Builders Association of Lane County, and St. Vincent de Paul.

All agree with NWCU’s John Iglesias that building – or rebuilding – a home “where it ought to be” is one of the greatest things a person or organization can do for the community.

Mr. Iglesias added, “And it’s great for those who fought hard for our country and did what they needed to do to get the job done.”

Watch Seneca Sawmill's video from the grand opening of the Seneca House.

The Seneca House: A Project Thank You