MENLO PARK — Nearly three dozen veterans are already lined up to live at a new housing development unveiled this week.
Willow Housing, a 60-unit apartment complex providing permanent housing with amenities to homeless and at-risk veterans at 605 Willow Road, at the southeast edge of VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s Menlo Park campus, is set to begin issuing keys next month.
Officials were on hand Tuesday to celebrate the public-private partnerships that helped make the project a reality, but also to steel themselves for more battles ahead.
“This project really begins and ends with the VA and the VA staff, from providing the land, from providing funding to make this project happen, and to work with us to implement this beautiful project on their campus,” said Chris Neale, vice president of The Core Companies, which oversaw the project.
“Unfortunately,” he continued, “these 60 units are just a drop in the bucket in terms of need.”
For instance, according to a news release, in 2015 nearly 800 veterans in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties were thought to be homeless.
Christopher Madaras, of San Mateo, a formerly homeless veteran, was at the unveiling to share his story. Diagnosed with severe back trauma in 1981 while serving in the Army, he said he was stuck on opiates for years, until finding out that VA Palo Alto offered acupuncture, which helped him on his road to recovery.
“This is a miracle for our veterans,” Madaras said of Willow Housing.
Neale said many of his employees identified with the project on a personal level, because they have family members who served in the armed forces. Matt Stanley, vice president of real estate for EAH Housing, which partnered with Core, said EAH made a “crucial hire” when it brought in Charles King, a veteran of the Army special forces, to manage EAH’s side of the project.
“This was a crucial hire on our part, because you can’t work with veterans unless you understand what they’ve been through,” Stanley said.
Each unit will be furnished with a bed, table and chairs. On-site professional staff will support the veterans in maintaining their housing and increasing their self-sufficiency. Amenities include a community room, business center with computers to help with job searches, fitness center, on-site laundry, public transportation, bike storage, walking paths and raised-bed vegetable gardens.
Anyone interested in assisting with enhancing the veterans’ homes is asked to contact EAH at email@example.com.
Email Kevin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 650-391-1049.