VanKeuren Square has a big mission—providing permanent supportive housing to needy veterans.
Located in Syracuse, N.Y., the 50-unit development was built with vets in mind. Half the apartments target low-income veterans, and half target veterans who have been chronically homeless. The latter 25 units have project-based HUD-VASH vouchers, which provide residents with rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and services from Veterans Affairs (VA).
“It’s meant a sense of stability and a sense of pride for the residents,” says Rebecca Newman, executive vice president and COO of nonprofit developer Housing Visions, explaining that the furnished apartments allow the residents to focus on their recovery and other needs.
The first project of its kind in the region, VanKeuren Square features ground-floor office space for two full-time VA case managers, with 44 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments located above.
By combining housing and supportive services under one roof, the development provides a total package for the veterans.
The services include medical care, substance-abuse treatment, mental health assistance, benefits counseling, and job training. The apartments serve residents earning no more than 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income. Prospective tenants are referred by the Syracuse VA Medical Center.
The urban infill project represents not only a fresh start for homeless and at-risk veterans but a large-scale neighborhood revitalization effort, as well. The project replaces a blighted building that had sat vacant for years with a LEED Platinum development that boasts a graywater system and other sustainable features.
Financing for the $11.5 million project includes more than $5 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity from Enterprise Community Investment and M&T Bank.
VanKeuren Square serves as a model for future VASH/LIHTC projects.