Group wants Chesapeake's help for vet housing project

Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA), 2014-07-13


July 13 -- CHESAPEAKE -- A nonprofit group has asked for the city's help in building a 50-unit apartment complex in Chesapeake for homeless or low-income disabled veterans.

Southeastern Virginia Housing Corporation representatives told City Council members last week that the $9.6 million facility, to be paid for mostly with state and federal money, would be the first of its kind in the city. The project would be similar to one that opened in Virginia Beach last year.

Sharon Shoff , the group's director of administrative services, said the project would provide permanent housing for single veterans or families who would pay up to 30 percent of their income to live in one- or two-bedroom apartments.

"These are people who have gone off to war and now they don't have a decent and affordable place to live," Shoff said. "We just feel like we can do something to help."

The project could be ready for occupancy by the end of 2017.

Shoff asked the city to help find up to 2 acres of land and allocate a portion of its federal housing allotments to the project.

She said the project would be modeled after Cedar Grove Apartments , a 32-unit facility the nonprofit opened last fall in the Bayside area of Virginia Beach .

Chesapeake City Manager James Baker said officials already have begun exploring potential sites for the project.

Shoff said she hoped land could be donated "or sold to us at a nominal price."

The ideal site, she said, would be near a public transportation route "because many of our clients don't have transportation."

The proposal drew positive comments from council members during a work session July 8 .

"Not every veteran needs help, but there is certainly a demonstrated need for something like this," council member Debbie Ritter said after hearing the presentation.

"There are homeless veterans living under tarps on the ground in our great city," council member Ella Ward added. "I'd be glad to see this project to fruition."

Jeff Sheler , 757-222-5207, jeff.sheler@pilotonline.com

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