The nonprofit hopes to begin construction next spring. (rendering courtesy of Guidon)
An Indianapolis nonprofit is looking to help homeless veterans get back on their feet. Steadfast For Veterans is planning to build a 14-home community on the west side of Indianapolis to not only give veterans a place to live, but also provide services to help with case management and crisis intervention. The nonprofit was founded by Tony Roberts, who came up with the idea after helping to buy and rehab a home for a veteran who was found squatting at a home owned by the city that had previously belonged to his late mother.
The community will feature 475-square-foot single occupancy homes with a bed, bath, kitchen and living room. It will also have an on-site office with a laundry facility, as well as a common area for social gatherings.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Roberts said creating a place to live is just one part of helping the veterans.
"There are multiple groups and agencies that already provide what they call wraparound services for veterans; the housing has been the lacking part, so our model for the solution is we're going to provide an advocate," said Roberts. "And that advocate's sole job is to represent the veteran, help the veteran and be their friend, their point of contact and everything. The social workers that these veterans have that are supplied by the VA, their caseload is no different than probation officers and all other government workers. I'm going to say anywhere from 50 to 150 veterans, one social worker has to take care of; our advocate is going to be responsible for just the 14 people living in that complex."
Roberts says the advocate will serve as a middle man to help the veterans get the services they need from their social workers or another agency.
The land on the city's west side is being donated for the project and the nonprofit says the underground infrastructure for power, water and sewer is already in place.
"It can serve as either short or long-term housing," the nonprofit said in a news release. "We understand that some of our Veterans may be able to use this as just enough to get back on their feet and move on. We also understand this may be the last place some of our Veterans live. We’re okay with either, so long as they live with the comfort and dignity they deserve as people who served our country."
Steadfast For Veterans says, once the community is built, it will become self-sustaining through the Department of Veterans Affairs' HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, or HUD-VASH, voucher program. However, Roberts says they are continuing to look for corporate partners to help build the homes themselves.
"Even though we've got construction financing and the land is donated, in the ideal situation, we would like to get corporate partners involved to where they can donate a large portion of the house costs to us and then their company and employees can come out and participate in actually building the house when construction starts. We've got 14 houses; if I could get 14 businesses to step up and be a part of this, if they can't absorb the entire cost of each house, if they could just help with 50-60 percent of it, that would be a great step forward."
Roberts says students from Ball State University have already helped with site design and Lowe's will be contributing to a couple of the houses.
The nonprofit's goal is to begin construction on the community in March or April and finish within 60-90 days of breaking ground. Roberts says the long-term goal is to build a model that can spread throughout Indianapolis and Indiana. He hopes to bring the model to multiple states within five years.
Roberts says creating a place to live is just one part of helping the veterans.
Roberts explains the origins of the nonprofit and its mission.
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