Veterans have new home in Greenville

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People see the inside of one of the apartments a veteran has moved into after the ribbon cutting at Honor Ridge on March 21, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The (Greenville) Daily Reflector

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A first-of-its-kind development to combat homelessness among veterans in North Carolina officials opened in Greenville on Wednesday, with some residents moving in this week. 

A crowd of about 70 people, including community leaders, elected officials and partners in developing Honor Ridge, gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Greenville Housing Authority complex Tuesday afternoon. 

Officials broke ground for the development on Aug. 23 and construction wrapped up this week. Currently the complex has 21 units, 14 of which are specifically reserved for veterans. Vets can use vouchers to pay for most of the rental expenses.

Wayman Williams, executive director of the housing authority, said the VASH (Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers can be used at any subsidized housing project. But demand for housing is high, and Honor Ridge will ensure that at least some units are available for vets. The development will be particularly helpful to vets trying to reintegrate themselves into society after returning from combat and overseas duty.

Wednesday’s ceremony began with a presentation of colors by members of East Carolina University's ROTC program and included speeches from partners in the project.  Donald Cavellini, vice chairman of the housing authority board of directors, said the project is part of authority’s commitment to creating real and lasting commitments to veterans in the area.

“You know it’s one thing to say ‘We appreciate your service,’ but it’s a whole other thing to provide the resources like a roof over your head; that’s what makes the difference,” he said. 

Honor Ridge is a phase of a larger development that will expand to 98 units over the next few years. Later phases also will contain affordable units but will not be specifically be designated for veterans. Construction costs are estimated at $1.5 million.

The complex is a collaboration among the housing authority, Groundbreaking Developers LLC, and other local partners like Vidant Health. It is located off Memorial Drive on Thomas Langston Road, purposefully in close proximity to the Veteran Affairs Office on the corner of Regency Boulevard and Evans Street, as well as other amenities, like the VA Health Care Center on West Fifth Street.

Jonathan Forte of the Veterans Affairs Health Care Center said Honor Ridge is the first of a kind in the state, and represents a big step in an ongoing mission to support veterans in the community. 

“Ending veteran homelessness in Greenville, North Carolina, is not impossible. It’s my challenge to each and every one of you,” he said. “Together we have more work to do to honor the sacrifice, the courage and the dedication displayed by all veterans.”

Williams said the authority was interested in building units like these and partnered with Groundbreaking Developers because of its interest in building affordable living homes. Groundbreaking Developers will lease the units and manage the property. The housing authority will remain involved only in the voucher process.

“Veterans provide a great service for our country. They go over over and they fight for us. Part of what we feel is important in honoring their service is to also help them integrate back into the community,” Williams said. “Because often veterans come back after serving their country and they’re homeless or they need some special or supportive services in order to be integrated back into civilian life. This provides us with the opportunity to address that need of the population.”