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VA Creating Housing for Homeless Vets & Their Families

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A man threads a pipe outside at a construction site

“Those who have served this Nation as Veterans should never find themselves on the streets, living without care and without hope.” — VA Secretary Eric Shinseki

by Tom Cramer, VA staff writer
Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Minneapolis VA Medical Center will convert five old buildings at Fort Snelling into 58 apartments for homeless Veterans and their families.

Renovations work expected to begin in late 2013 or early 2014. The project represents one aspect of VA’s nationwide effort to end Veteran homelessness by 2015.

“Building Utilization Review and Repurposing (BURR) is a Department-wide effort to identify empty buildings and land for repurposing,” explained Ralph Heussner, public affairs officer for the Minneapolis VA. “This contributes to two important VA goals: fighting Veteran homelessness and decreasing VA’s inventory of vacant and underutilized buildings.

VA’s $15 million Fort Snelling project covers six acres and renovation of five buildings.

“A third benefit,” he added, “is that it allows VA to preserve and restore some of its many historically valuable structures.”

Fort Snelling is what is known as an ‘unorganized territory’ located near Minneapolis. It contains numerous military and other federal facilities, including historic Fort Snelling, its cemetery and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

An old building

Fixer-Upper — Building 227 and four other VA-owned buildings at Fort Snelling, Minn., are scheduled to be transformed into apartments for homeless Veterans and their families.

The renovation of five historic buildings at Fort Snelling is part of a broader effort by VA to end Veteran homelessness by 2015. In November 2011 the Department announced plans to enter into agreements to provide more than 3,000 units of permanent and transitional housing for Veterans at 25 of its medical center campuses nationwide and that more agreements are planned for an additional 1,000 units. Proposed opportunities include housing for homeless Veterans, senior Veterans, disabled Veterans, other at-risk Veteran populations and their families.

VA’s $15 million Fort Snelling project covers six acres and will include the renovation of Building 210, an old stable where cavalry officers once kept their horses and Building 211, where GIs repaired tanks during World War II. Fort Snelling was decommissioned as a military post in 1946.

“The five buildings will contain multi-bedroom units,” said Lisa Pape, national director of VA’s Homeless and Residential Rehab Treatment Programs. “This will likely make them attractive to Veterans with families, as well as the growing number of homeless women Veterans who have children.”