While the halls of Old Main have rung hollow for more than 30 years, they are now weeks away from filling with life.
The former Milwaukee Soldiers Home (pictured above) and other nearby buildings are being transformed into housing for homeless Veterans. An effort to find Veterans to live there is underway.
“This is a great opportunity to build a community for Veterans and provide easy access to medical and mental health care,” said Amy Mauel, assistant program manager for homeless prevention programs at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. “It’s very exciting.”
On March 1, Veterans will move into the buildings that have been under renovation since fall 2019. From then on, Old Main, the Administration Building, and nearby houses will be akin to a modern apartment community with a variety of residences and a myriad of amenities:
- 101 housing units, ranging from single-room occupancies with shared living spaces and kitchens to one- and two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom duplexes and one four-bedroom house.
- Fitness room, business center and various lounge areas.
- A separate wing for female Veterans.
- Complimentary internet and basic cable television.
- On-site support services, ranging from counseling, sobriety maintenance and mental health care to recreational activities and employment assistance.
Targeted to homeless or at-risk-of-becoming-homeless Veterans
Mauel, her staff and VA partners have been working to connect with Veterans eligible to live in the new complex. It specifically targets Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“All Veterans living in the Soldiers Home have to come through the HUD-VASH program,” Mauel said. “HUD-VASH is the front door for Veterans looking to secure housing.”
HUD-VASH – Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing – specifically helps Veterans secure permanent housing.
“It’s a clinical treatment program with housing as a benefit. Veterans in the program receive supportive services from a social worker or registered nurse.
“We’re here to help any Veterans at risk for homelessness if they want to live in the Soldiers Home or the community,” Mauel said.
Veterans who qualify to live in the Soldiers Home will pay about 30% of their income in rent. The rents are set by the Housing Authority and are variable based on the type of unit.
Soldiers Home not a domiciliary or transitional housing
“This is permanent, supportive housing. A multidisciplinary team of HUD-VASH staff members will be available to provide supportive services, based on Veteran need,” Mauel added.
A doctor, nurse or social worker can help Veterans with the HUD-VASH connection. Or they can call the National Homeless Hotline at 877-424-3838.
Thirty Veterans have started application process
So far, more than 30 Veterans have initiated the application process through the property management company.
“As we get closer to opening the facility, I think we’ll have even more interest,” Mauel said. “We’re trying to spread the word to Veterans who are interested in taking advantage of this incredible opportunity.”
Dustin Koonce, real estate portfolio manager in the VA Office of Asset Enterprise Management, agreed.
“I feel good about this project,” he said. “Once the doors open, you’ll hear a lot more from Veterans. We’re really excited about this program.”