Pounding hammers, whirring power saws and grinding jackhammers have been welcome sounds on the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus this summer and fall.
Such noise means construction is occurring — using materials and providing jobs that can help our economy.
But those working on one particular construction project should feel a little extra pride in what they’re building. They’re putting up a complex that will house veterans who currently have nowhere to call home.
Eagle Landing, as it’s been named, will offer shelter to 54 homeless veterans and their families. This year, the veterans will truly be home for the holidays.
Construction of the $12 million project is expected to be complete by mid-November so the veterans can celebrate Thanksgiving in their new homes.
It’s true that accommodating 54 homeless veterans is just a start. A 2011 study estimated there are 900 homeless veterans in the area served by the Roseburg VA.
Ideally, every one who has fought for our country would have a home. That’s certainly the goal. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki wants to erase homelessness among veterans by 2015.
He has a long way to go. Nationwide, as many as 75,609 veterans were considered homeless in the winter of 2009. While 57 percent may have had temporary shelter or been able to stay with a friend, the remainder had no place to live.
Every major goal requires many small steps before it’s accomplished. Eagle Landing is one of those steps. It’s encouraging to see Roseburg become one of the places that can make a difference in the lives of veterans.
The 44 apartments and 10 small houses available to veterans aren’t second-class homes. They are attractive, energy-efficient buildings with amenities. The Douglas County Global Warming Coalition is thrilled that the complex is the first in the area to achieve certification by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. That means green technology has been used to limit the effect on the environment.
Once the veterans move in, it’s hoped that the nice surroundings will help them pull out of poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, and other problems that led to their homelessness. A case manager will also work with them to find jobs, return to school and become sober.
It’s taken coordination among local agencies to bring Eagle Landing to fruition. The VA donated the land and $1 million to the project. Oregon Housing and Community Services is the primary funder, utilizing $7.5 million in low-income housing tax credits.
NeighborWorks Umpqua has overseen the facility’s development, and United Community Action Network will work with the residents on improving their lives.
It’s good to see so many take an interest in reducing the homeless population of veterans in Southern Oregon.