VHP House No. 11 Is Just Around the Corner

A 10th refurbished home will open its doors to a veteran family following the grand opening of the Ruskin House on April 3 in the Bethel neighborhood. The 4 p.m. hour on a Wednesday proved a satisfying way for public officials, business people, and the public to celebrate the middle of the work week and another feat of affordable housing for the Veterans Housing Project.

Flanked by a row of fluttering flags, guests listened as speakers addressed the challenges faced by veteran families as they reintegrate into a civilian world where rank and a job well done don’t necessarily translate into nicely furnished housing and food on the table.

Several spoke of the origins of the Veterans Housing Project – a scrappy bunch from various sectors that came together in 2011 to rehabilitate a long-vacant South Eugene residence. In the process they knitted the Veterans Housing Project, which has since added nine rehabilitated homes to its inventory. Another in the VHP portfolio, the Seneca House, was new construction.

The April 3 event brought out most of the founders – Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz and wife Barbara, Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr and wife Debi, Ed McMahon of the Lane County Home Builders Association. St. Vincent de Paul’s Terry McDonald was represented by Chief of Staff Pete Kerns. EWEB was also a HBA founder.

The flag display was courtesy of Honor A Vet, a fundraiser that invites people to donate a minimum of $20 to VHP in exchange for a flag and commemorative military-style tag. Donors write the names and branches of service for their honorees, and endearments destined for the hearts and minds of veteran relatives and friends.

Several properties have come to the program via the Bethel School District, which purchased them in anticipation of future development. Meanwhile they are comfortable homes for deserving veteran families, and they bring kids to the Bethel schools.

That pleases Debi Farr, Bethel School Board chair, and Superintendent Chris Parra who extolled the wonders of House No. 10 and pointed out No. 11 on nearby property, visible only as a burst of flowering cherry over a rustic fence.