The newly developed, 65-unit Veterans housing apartment building includes a large community room, six residential lounges, a patio area with a grill and benches, laundry facility, computer center and fitness center for residents’ use. Some of the available one, two- and three-bedroom units have views of a white gazebo, green lawns and a nearby wooded area. The new building is located on the VA Illiana Health Care System campus and provides affordable and supportive housing for homeless, at-risk of being homeless, and disabled Veterans and their families as part of VA’s Enhanced-Use Lease (EUL) program.
The EUL program, operated by the Office of Asset Enterprise Management, allows VA to lease its underutilized property to private sector partners to develop supportive housing for eligible Veterans. For instance, the new Cannon Place complex described above has been named after the influential congressman who lobbied to bring a VA facility to Danville, Illinois.
Located just steps from the Cannon Place apartment units are on-site supportive service offices that provide residents with referrals to services such as mental and physical health treatment, connections to community partnerships designed to maintain self-sufficiency, opportunities for continuing education at the local community college, and access to medical services through the nearby VA facility. There is also a donation room that collects move-in essential items for Veteran residents, such as dishes, cleaning supplies, shower curtains, pillows, toiletries and bedding donated by various community groups and businesses.
The Enhanced-Use Lease Program provides Veterans in need with access to safe, affordable housing, but also include wraparound services to help them get back on their feet and an opportunity to interact with one another and create a community. This is part of VA’s holistic approach to preventing and ending Veteran homelessness, known as Housing First, and has been shown to lead to better long-term housing outcomes as well as better health care outcomes for Veterans.
“You know, it’s more than just about having somewhere to sleep,” says Marine Corps Veteran Emanuel Yates, who lives at a similar EUL housing complex in Minnesota. “It’s about having somewhere where I feel safe; it’s about having somewhere I feel supported; it’s about being a part of something.”
Since opening in September 2016, Cannon Place has become home to 89 residents and continues to grow. Four raised garden beds were recently installed by community volunteers after residents expressed interest in gardening opportunities, and there are talks of adding a playground for the 11 children living in the complex.
Recently, a group of women representing the American Legion Auxiliary toured the Cannon Place community. Among them was Mary E. Davis, the organization’s national president, who left impressed.
“The facility… is an amazing facility to give homeless Veterans not only a new beginning,” she said, “but a place to restore their dignity.”
Providing homeless and at risk Veterans with the resources and supportive services to help them achieve new beginnings and regain independence is a top priority for VA and its partners. The 65 apartments at Cannon Place is a great example of that, but there is more work to be done. You and your community can get involved by: