A project to house homeless veterans, called Veterans Village, was officially dedicated Thursday.
“I’m just thinking of the homeless veterans who are going to be dry, warm and fed next week,” said Dick Tobiason of the Bend Heroes Foundation as he cut a ribbon dedicating the facility.
“We have 15 units for veterans. They are 12 feet by 12 feet,” said Deborah Flagan, vice president of Hayden Homes which served as general contractor on the project. “Each are handicap accessible. Each unit has a sleeping quarters for them and each has a toilet and a sink.”
Two years in the making, and with the help of more than 100 organizations including the city of Bend and Deschutes County, Veterans Village was dedicated with speeches and ribbon cuttings.
“Thank you to everyone who has used power tools, sided, painted or signed a check. It takes an entire community working together to build a village,” said Cheri Helt, former state representative who brought many of the project movers and shakers together.
Homeless veterans will begin moving into Veterans Village next week.
They’ll come in groups of five spaced out over a period of weeks.
Surprisingly, some of the homeless veterans selected to live in the new village are “a bit skittish about this. Not everybody is ‘oh boy. This is a great place. Let me go there,'” said JW Terry of Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, the organization that will operate the facility. “There is a wait and see attitude. Is it real? Or is it another place to have failure.”
Fifteen sleeping quarters are arranged in a semi-circle around a central community building.
Veterans will prepare meals and socialize while receiving mental health and support services designed to help them break the cycle of homelessness.
Like many building projects, Veterans Village was delayed for months by labor shortages.
Heart of Oregon Corps and J Bar J came to the rescue and built 15 floors and 60 walls.
“They had a hard time putting the first house together. They were struggling, trying to figure out what they were doing. Now on the last day, on the last house, they were just flying through it. They know what they are doing,” said Tyler Caster, career and technical education director for J Bar J. “This has been a huge learning experience for all of them.”
City of Bend building inspector Sean Quinlaven concluded the dedication ceremony by presenting certificates of occupancy so the buildings can legally be occupied by homeless veterans selected to live in the new facility.