Community Development Banking

Providing Communities for Our Veterans

U.S. veterans have a place to call home on VA medical campuses thanks to Communities for Veterans and the nonprofit organization Solutions for Veterans of Georgia.



You’ve likely thanked a veteran for their service. But have you considered the challenges they face once their service is complete?

The transition to civilian life can be difficult for veterans. Many veterans must adapt to a vastly different culture when adjusting to life back at home. They may face challenges in finding employment and housing. These issues are often exacerbated for those injured in service or still processing traumatic experiences.

There are 18 million veterans in the U.S. today,1 and many have tackled these challenges. Air Force veteran Craig Taylor is among them. In the early ‘90s, after retiring from his own military service, he developed housing for homeless individuals living with HIV and AIDs. During this time, Taylor saw firsthand the obstacles many veterans face, including drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness.

“I swore at that point that I would do something to make a difference for vets,” Taylor said. 

 

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made a commitment to end veteran homelessness. As part of the initiative, the VA reached out to the private sector to develop affordable housing on vacant land and buildings on VA hospital campuses.

In response, Taylor made good on his promise to help veterans with the help of Don Paxton, an experienced affordable housing developer and the head of Beneficial Communities.

Taylor and Paxton founded Communities for Veterans to provide supportive affordable rental housing communities on VA campuses with priority placement for veterans and their families who are disabled, homeless or at risk of being homeless. 

Paxton had a longstanding relationship with JPMorgan Chase. He had worked with Tammy Haylock-Moore, executive director for Community Development Banking, since 1999. Haylock-Moore and the firm have provided Communities for Veterans with loans for projects, including its Freedom’s Path affordable housing communities.

These modern residences are located on VA campuses and provide a supportive environment for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Freedom’s Path locations include:
 

Freedom’s Path Augusta, Georgia

  • 98 one-bedroom apartments on 8 acres of the Charlie Norwood VA Campus
  • Designed for low-income veterans
  • Originally built in the mid-1930s as military hospital wards
     

Freedom’s Path Chillicothe, Ohio

  • Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains
  • Three-story building with 60 one- and two-bedroom units
  • Priority placement for homeless, at-risk and disabled veterans
     

Freedom’s Path Fort Harrison, Montana

  • Located on the Fort Harrison VA Campus in Lewis and Clark County
  • 11 rehabbed two- and three-story buildings with 42 units
  • Priority placement for homeless, at-risk and disabled veterans
     

Freedom’s Path Hines, Illinois

  • Located on the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Campus
  • 52 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments designed for veterans with families
  • Includes a children’s play area and basketball court
     

These homes are just a few steps away from VA medical care and provide three other critical benefits, Taylor said.

  • Vets living with vets: Living alongside others who share and understand their unique experience helps veterans feel less isolated, Taylor said. Residents may also face physical and psychological challenges, so they provide each other with mutual support and accountability.
  • Homes for difficult-to-house individuals: Some of the most difficult-to-house individuals live at Freedom’s Path, Taylor said. Many of these residents have health and substance abuse issues, and some have spent more than 20 years living on the streets. 
  • A culture of dignity and respect: The Freedom’s Path mission is to treat veterans with dignity and respect while offering them treatment and support.

All properties feature a technology center where residents can take online courses and apply for jobs, and they offer activities like fishing trips and equine therapy. Freedom’s Path also hosts seminars and programs on financial management, healthy eating and other topics, which vary depending on resident demographics.

Plus, case managers are located onsite for the Freedom’s Path residents who use U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers. About 20 to 30 units at each Freedom’s Path site use these vouchers, Taylor said. HUD-VASH is a collaborative program that combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help homeless veterans and their families find and sustain permanent housing.
 

Military officer icon: 90,749 veterans have active HUD-VASH vouchers  83,684 HUD-VASH vouchers are in use [8]
House icon: 11k+ veterans have found permanent housing and critically needed support services through the HUD-VASH program as of November 2019 [4]
Bed icon: 600 agencies receive VA funds and provide more than 14,500 beds for eligible veterans [8]

Working with Freedom’s Path properties is just one way JPMorgan Chase supports veterans. In 2011, JPMorgan Chase established an Office of Military and Veterans Affairs to help veterans, service members and their families thrive in their post-military lives. JPMorgan Chase also works with veteran-owned and helps fund New Markets Tax Credit projects that provide specialized veterans services.

 

 

1.Holder, K.A. April 11, 2018. “They Are Half the Size of the Living Vietnam Veteran Population.” U.S. Census Bureau.
2.Holder, K.A. April 11, 2018. “They Are Half the Size of the Living Vietnam Veteran Population.” U.S. Census Bureau.
3.National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report. 2019. Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
4.Point-in-Time (PIT) Count. 2019. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
5.“Employment status of the civilian population 18 years and over by veteran status, period of service, and sex, not seasonally adjusted.” September 2020. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6.Eggleston, J., and Holder, K.A. 2017. Wealth of Veterans. Current Population Reports: 70-151. U.S. Census Bureau.
7.National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
8.Health, V. VA Programs for Homeless Veterans webpage. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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