Struggling military veterans will have access to new housing and resources to help end the cycle of homelessness, as construction is now underway for a new, affordable-housing community in Minneapolis.
During a ceremonial groundbreaking for Veterans East, veterans groups, project partners and community leaders heralded the new development as vital in helping end homelessness among military veterans in Minnesota. According to Heading Home Minnesota, a public-private partnership to end homelessness, more than 10,000 Minnesotans are homeless on any given night, including more than 279 veterans.
Funding for the $14.3 million veterans' community, developed by the Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC), was secured through a collaboration of public- and private-sector partners.
"We are pleased to begin construction on this important new community that will serve veterans who have struggled with homelessness," said Elizabeth Flannery, president of CHDC. "So many partners have come together to help Veterans East become a place for veterans to call home."
Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is the largest private investor, providing $5.2 million in equity through a partnership with Minnesota Equity Fund, using Low Income Housing Tax Credits approved by the state. Minnesota Housing, the other major investor, is providing $7.7 million in deferred loan funds for the new development. Additional funding includes $500,000 from Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Des Moines; $350,000 from Hennepin County; $260,000 from CHDC affiliates; and $290,000 in energy and sales tax rebates.
"This new community will be a model for providing permanent housing and services for military veterans," said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, who co-chairs the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness. "We are honored to join with so many partners to help end veteran and chronic homelessness."
"We are grateful for the opportunity to play an integral part in helping make a difference in the lives of military veterans who have given so much for our country," said retired Rear Adm. Elizabeth S. Niemyer, Chief Program Officer, UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, a UnitedHealth Group company that provides health care services for nearly 2.9 million service members, military retirees and their families. "This is an important new housing community that will have a tremendous impact in serving military veterans in our state for years to come."
When completed in Summer 2017, the new 100-unit efficiency apartment community will provide permanent supportive housing for veterans struggling with homelessness. Through partnerships with the Veterans Administration, CHDC, BDC Management Company and Hennepin County, Veterans East will include onsite services to assist residents with health care, case management, life skills, financial management, benefits assistance, education and employment resources.
"This is a proud moment for our community," said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. "The men and women who will be living at Veterans East have endured many sacrifices while serving our nation, and Veterans East will provide housing and support services to help lift them up and out of poverty."
The five-story property will feature a lobby with security, community room with gas fireplace and kitchenette, laundry facility and resident parking. Watson-Forsberg is the general contractor, and LHB is the architect.
The $5.2 million investment by UnitedHealth Group is part of more than $240 million the company has provided since 2011 to finance affordable-housing communities with supportive services throughout the United States. These investments have included $29 million for affordable housing in Minnesota, including $7.2 million for the recently completed CommonBond Veterans Community at Fort Snelling.
"MEF provides a vehicle for socially motivated corporations like UnitedHealth Group and financial institutions to make economic investments in well-designed, high-quality affordable-housing developments in growing communities throughout Minnesota," said Warren Hanson, MEF president and CEO. "Our partnership in this new veterans development will help meet the critical need to provide military families with quality, permanent housing with supportive services."
About Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC)
CHDC has provided stability to Minnesota residents and communities for more than 25 years as a nonprofit developer and owner of 44 properties with more than 4,300 affordable units. CHDC's properties provide housing for more than 5,000 residents. CHDC was founded on the belief that long term, nonprofit ownership is the best way to sustain high quality affordable housing. Its mission is to develop quality housing for people earning low incomes.
About the Minnesota Equity Fund (MEF)
MEF is a subsidiary of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF), a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution. GMHF provides loans, equity investments, grants and technical assistance to create affordable housing in Minnesota. MEF is a strategic partnership between GMHF and Cinnaire, a nationally recognized syndicator of low-income housing tax credits with over $3 billion under management.
About Minnesota Housing Finance Agency
Minnesota Housing finances affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Minnesotans while fostering strong communities. Find out more at www.mnhousing.gov, Twitter @mnhousing and at www.facebook.com/minnesotahousing.
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.
Veterans, project partners and community leaders herald the start of construction for Veterans East during a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Matt Page)
Retired Rear Adm. Elizabeth S. Niemyer, chief program officer, UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Veterans East. (Photo Credit: Matt Page)