Complex in city to assist veterans
Construction to begin in 2023 on facility to offer shelter, services
YOUNGSTOWN –A planned complex to provide additional services and housing for veterans of the Mahoning Valley is underway in Youngstown.
Brandi Parker, assistant director of veteran services with Family and Community Services and formerly program manager with Veteran’s Haven, said construction is to begin in 2023 and the project is to be completed by 2024.
Veteran’s Haven has two locations in Mahoning County and one location in Trumbull County. In Trumbull County, offices are at the Riverview Apartments off Buckeye Street NW. In Mahoning County, a service center is off West Boardman Street in downtown Youngstown across from city hall.
The temporary veterans shelter is on Chalmers Avenue in Youngstown offering transitional housing for up to 10 veterans. Parker said that location partners with Meridian Healthcare Services in an area of the health care building.
Parker said when the new complex is opened, it will replace the Chalmers Avenue site, but the other two locations will remain.
“The new building will allow us to have more space to assist more homeless veterans and provide them the services they need. There are also plans to provide affordable housing for veterans,” she said.
Veteran’s Haven, which is a program of Family and Community Services, focuses on supporting homeless veterans in their efforts to achieve greater self-sufficiency, including the ability to secure and maintain permanent housing.
The program provides 24/7 support with structured therapies throughout the week, which include art therapy, music therapy, life skills and stress management. Each veteran is provided an individual room during his or her stay and lives at the Veteran’s Haven for an average of six to 12 months with a goal of gaining permanent housing.
Parker said Veteran’s Haven provides support services to residents both on site and in the community. Each resident is assigned a support worker and has a daily routine that includes self-improvement activities, exercises in self-sufficiency and personal time.
Other services include assisting veterans with permanent housing, counseling resources, employment assistance, medical assistance and obtaining Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits.
“The Mahoning Valley has a very high number of veterans, and homeless veterans are needing assistance in northeastern Ohio,” she said.
Architects are completing the preliminary designs of the planned building. Officials with Family and Community Services have worked with the Mahoning County Land Bank at different locations, Parker said, and the Youngstown location — close to downtown — is in the process of being finalized.
“We have been discussing this since before the pandemic. We wanted to do something good for the veterans and the local area,” Parker said.
She said the property would allow for helping more than 15 veterans at a time with housing needs made possible by container homes, which are single- or multi-family residences that use new or used shipping containers as their primary material.
“The key is being able to help more veterans on site. The container homes are cost efficient, bulletproof and insulated. They look fabulous and are very common in other parts of the country,” Parker said, noting container homes are similar to modular homes.
She said container-home communities can be found in many states, including the Potter’s Village in California and in Arizona and Texas.
Parker said the $1 million to $1.5 million project already has received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which is a key funding source for the project, as well as local fundraising and donations. She said there also has been assistance from local Realtor groups.
Parker said the Youngstown location ”will allow veterans easy access to public transportation to get to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores and other locations.”
Parker said it is key to keep the service center in Youngstown available as well as the apartment housing in Warren, which is in partnership with the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority.
David Ewing, case manager for Veteran’s Haven and second vice commander for the American Legion 9th District, said homelessness is increasing, including among veterans.
“We need to help them the best we can,” he said.
He said as a case manager, he works with the veterans weekly focusing on their health needs, goals and plans.
“We set goals for each veteran. It is good to get a new building in place to help us be able to further provide services for our veterans,” Ewing said.
Ewing, a retired Army veteran, said he looks forward to seeing a new complex.
For information on Veteran’s Haven and for monetary or clothing or food donations, call 330-409-9139.