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New home for vets

Homeless veteran village finally opens in Shelton

About six years after it was proposed, the Shelton Veterans Village finally opened its doors Tuesday to about 150 people celebrating the new residence for 30 homeless Mason County veterans.

The nonprofit organization Quixote Communities operates the village on North 13th Street across from Christmas Village. It features seven four-plexes, one duplex and a community building that includes a laundry room, two bathrooms, three offices and a boardroom. The group also has homeless villages in Orting and Olympia.

In an email to the Journal, Quixote Communities Executive Director Colleen Carmichael said the group is waiting to receive a certificate of occupancy from the City of Shelton before residents can move into the units.

"We do not have a wait list as all of our veteran residents need to go through coordinated entry," she wrote. "We are actively working with agencies in the area to get potential clients into the coordinated entry system."

At the ceremony, Carmichael told the audience the village "has been a labor of love for our association." For veterans, "your service you gave to this country deserves this," she said.

Lonnie Spikes Jr., the vice president of Quixote Communities board of directors, called the village "a small dip in a whole ocean of homelessness ... but as long as you move forward, that's the point."

The project has faced many hurdles.

"For a time, we weren't sure it was going to happen," Jaycie Osterberg-Brown, associate director of Quixote Communities, told the audience.

The nonprofit received a $1 million grant from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund for the project. But some residents told the Shelton City Council they feared the village tenants would pose a threat to children walking to the four nearby schools, and the tenants of Christmas Village across the street. Debates centered on who would be allowed to live in the homes, the rules and supervision.

In the meantime, housing prices soared. The nonprofit changed the design from 30 tiny homes, like its village in Olympia, to its current format to save money. Then came the challenges posed by COVID. Ground was broken in September.

Crossroads Housing oversees the waiting list and contacts Quixote about potential residents. Applicants must be a veteran, pass urinalysis and background checks, and make 50% or less of the area medium income. Residents must also sign a code of conduct with their lease, which prohibits violence, weapons, drugs and other illegal behaviors. Residents will pay 30% of their income in rent.

Quixote Communities joined with the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs and local resources to provide village residents with transportation, case coordination, behavioral health services and life skills classes. The nonprofit states that it uses the Recovery Housing model, which provides a clean and sober living environmental its residents.

Quixote Communities received money from the state Housing Trust Fund, Mason County, the Federal Home Loan Bank, the Northcliffe Foundation, Medina Foundation, and Project-Based Vouchers and VASH Vouchers from the Bremerton Housing Authority. The nonprofit organization also received support from the city. Then State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, championed the project from its inception, the group said.

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald

 

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