Anticipated to be completed in early 2022, Judge Sara J. Harper Village will serve women veterans in Cleveland.
LS Architects Anticipated to be completed in early 2022, Judge Sara J. Harper Village will serve women veterans in Cleveland.

Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana announced plans to build a 12-unit affordable housing community for women veterans in Cleveland.

The new development will be named after Sara J. Harper. A Marine Corps veteran, Harper was the first African-American woman to graduate from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law, the first female judge in the history of the Marine Corps Reserve, and served as a judge on the Ohio Court of Appeals. Harper grew up in public housing in Cleveland.

Located in the Glenville neighborhood, Judge Sara J. Harper Village will consist of two buildings of 12 apartments. Each building will be approximately 3,000 square-feet and will house six units, including a two-bedroom suite for women with children.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), homelessness among female veterans increased by 2% between 2018 and 2019 while homelessness among male vets declined by 3% during the same period. In addition, VA research has found that women veterans are more than twice as likely to become homeless as women who did not serve in the military.

“Judge Sara J. Harper Village will provide affordable housing for the community’s most underserved segment of the veteran population and help meet the unique needs of women veterans as they return to civilian life,” said John R. von Arx III, Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana’s president and CEO. “We are honored to provide a safe place for women veterans to heal and rebuild their lives.”

The organization will also make important interventions available such as access to health care and treatment for mental health and substance use to help prevent homelessness.

Harper and her family attended a recent groundbreaking for the project.

“Making sure all people are aware of their basic human rights has been paramount to the values held by Judge Harper. Defending those rights has been our mother’s passion. She has been an uncontested warrior for justice for Black people and especially for women and children,” said Constance Trumbo Haqq, Harper’s eldest daughter.

The $2 million project has secured funding from public and private sources, including the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, PNC, The Home Depot Foundation, the state of Ohio, and other community foundations and corporations.