GREEN BAY - Veterans who need a home could soon have a permanent and affordable place to rest their heads.
As the remnants of the old Brown County Mental Health Center are demolished, just to the north on the center’s grounds, a plan to build a 50 unit apartment building is coming together.
"I think the project will be a great asset," explained Robert Cocroft, President and CEO of the Milwaukee-based Center for Veterans Issues – or CVI. It is one of the two groups behind the proposed $7.4 million Green Bay Veterans Manor, providing affordable permanent housing to homeless or extremely low income veterans. The hope is to break ground in the spring of 2014 with an expected finish date in the spring of 2015.
The county sold the land to CVI and Cardinal Capital Management – a Wisconsin-based developer with experience in affordable housing projects – earlier this year, contingent on tax credit approval. Last week, the state released $350,000 in tax credits for the project.
"What it does it allows us to get, raise equity,” explained Cardinal Capital Management President Erich Schwenker. “And that equity might be 60 to 70-percent of the total cost of the building." Schwenker says the rest will come from private funding and loans.
This isn’t the first time the two groups have partnered. They already operate a similar facility in Milwaukee – providing homeless or low income veterans with an affordable place to live, all the while providing social services, for things like alcohol and drug abuse and mental health issues.
The Green Bay Veterans Manor – just down the road from the newly opened Green Bay Veterans Affairs clinic – would do the same thing.
"We really feel the results for the vets in Milwaukee have been really good,” said Schwenker. “We really think it will be true here in Green Bay."
A need in the community
At 75, Dick Marbes handles a lot. In addition to paying the bills as the treasurer of the state chapter of Disabled American Veterans organization. The Air Force Veteran also coordinates transportation for veterans in the state to get the medical care they need.
Marbes says veterans face many issues; one of them being homelessness.
"I'm a little bit familiar with homelessness, because of my younger brother, who was in the Marine Corps," explained Marbes.
Marbes’ brother, Pat, died two years ago at the King Veterans home.
"He appreciated the system and what they did for him. He just never made that connection that got him up and got out and back into society,” Marbes said.
And Marbes believes there are plenty of vets in the state this proposed project will help.
According to the federal government, in 2012, more than 62,000 veterans in the United States were considered homeless.
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