$1.5M shelter for homeless veterans opens in Ohio
Sunday, July 14, 2013 4:15 AM
AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- A $1.5 million shelter for homeless veterans has opened has part of a national effort to reduce homelessness among those who have served in the military.
Three veterans moved into Valor Home in Akron last week and by the end of the month, all 30 beds are expected to be occupied. After that, backers expect a waiting list.
A 54-year-old veteran who served with the Marines told the Akron Beacon Journal (bit.ly/13IOP2N) the operation feels like home. He said he had been homeless for two years.
Among the rules of the house, is a requirement that full names, personal details and photos of the clients not be used to protect them from the stigma of homelessness, the newspaper said.
As part of the Obama administration's five-year plan to eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs has committed nearly $1 billion to the problem.
In 2010, there was an estimated 76,000 veterans with no place to stay, according to the newspaper, and that was cut by 12 percent to about 67,500 the next year.
Vietnam veteran Bob Wilkinson said a committee was formed in 2008 and sought a VA grant to build a shelter in Akron. The VA initially denied the request in 2009 but then approved a $900,000 grant in 2010.
The Federal Home Loan Bank added another $474,000 -- enough to get the project under way.
Valor Home is operated by Family & Community Services Inc. of Portage County, which also operates Freedom House, a 14-bed facility for homeless veterans in Kent.
David Peacock, 53, a veteran of the British military and the therapeutic director of Valor Home, said the long process made it feel "like it was never going to happen."
"This is a community answer to a community problem," he said.
He praised Wilkinson for his perseverance in working with other volunteer committee members to push to make the Valor Home happen.
The facility's full title is the Harry Donovan Jr. Valor Home, in honor of the Vietnam-veteran son of Harry Donovan Sr.
The senior Donovan is a World War II Marine veteran who steered landing crafts onto beaches in the Pacific.