60-unit Windsor Veterans Village project gets $10M push into construction

Next year about this time, dozens of veterans who have been making progress away from homelessness will have a new place to live with their families, thanks to a $30 million project set to be built next year in Windsor.

Newly announced $9.9 million in state money is propelling Windsor Veterans Village into construction, set to start in April. On completion, expect by late 2019, the project will have 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments in six residential buildings in a complex on the west side of the tracks. The project also will have a community room, service center and outdoor recreation space.

Important factors for the location were walking distance of the Town Green for family-oriented events and proximity to the Veterans Administration clinic 4 miles away near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport, according to project sponsors.

This is a project by Santa Rosa-based Veterans Resource Centers of America, which has 14 resource centers in Northern California, Nevada and Arizona for former service personnel of all ages. The Windsor units will be permanent supportive housing, as opposed to temporary assistive housing meant to help get people off the streets.

“Veterans in permanent housing are further along in the treatment process,” said Joe Millsap, community relations manager for the 46-year-old agency.

A number of the group's centers have temporary housing associated with shorter-term treatment programs, he said. Services offered by the centers include getting veterans into housing quickly, providing behavioral health care, helping them get jobs or prepare for new careers and managing each case individually. Those who have progressed through these programs will be getting priority for the permanent housing Millsap said.

The agency operates seven converted housing complexes next to those centers and has four in development, Millsap said.

About 40 veterans and their families already are living in the first phase of a complex being built at the former Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, Millsap said. After the Windsor project, housing projects are planned for Chico and Eureka.

The developer for the Windsor project is Santa Ana-based Urban Housing Communities. The design team is led by Santa Rosa-based architecture firm Archilogix and BKF Engineers, a global company with a Santa Rosa office.

The bulk of the project cost is being covered by a Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention program, which came out of a $90 million state bond in 2008 and operated by state departments of Housing and Community Development and of Veteran Affairs (CalVet) as well as California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA). The Windsor project and Manzanita Family Apartments in Napa were the two North Bay proposals to win part of $74.7 million in program grants announced earlier this month.

Other big funders of Windsor Veterans Village are Sonoma County, which contributed $750,000, and Windsor, which kicked in $500,000. The rest came from a grant from Home Depot Foundation, tax-free bonds and 4 percent federal tax credits.

Vouchers through the VA and federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for homeless veterans eligible for permanent supportive housing (HUD-VASH) cover the difference between the $100–$200 veterans receive monthly and the cost of the housing and support services, Millsap said.

California has the nation's largest population of homeless veterans. According to HUD's January point-in-time count of homelessness, California had 11,472 homeless veterans, or 28 percent of the just over 40,000 vets in that situation nationwide. Florida, Texas and Washington ranked second, third and fourth.

While veteran homelessness has been decreasing steadily since 2009, California's share increased 19.4 percent last year from 2016, according to an annual report by the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies, released in August.

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