More than 90% of the housing units are spoken for and more than 40 veterans have already moved in, but Thursday marked the official completion of what amounts to a renaissance on part of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home campus.
Six buildings have been preserved and rehabilitated. The complex’s centerpiece, Old Main, is the original Soldiers Home that opened in 1867 and housed generations of vets before falling into disrepair and closing in 1989. The former Administration Building, just south of Old Main, as well as three duplexes and a single-family home on the grounds, also have been restored for veterans housing.
The six buildings will offer 101 supportive housing units for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“This is not just a win for the city of Milwaukee, this is a win for the state of Wisconsin,” said Eduardo Garza Jr., president of the Center for Veterans Issues. The center will operate the facilities.
Garza said that when he helped move in the first couple of veterans, they were grateful to have their own place, and a new start.
“There’s a sense of disbelief that this is a reality for these veterans and their families — to be living in such a beautiful place … because some of them have never been able to live in something like this that they can call home,” he said.
The Milwaukee VA Medical Center will provide case management and supportive services, and all residents will have access to on-site help such as peer-to-peer counseling, benefits assistance, education training, employment assistance and sobriety maintenance.
This article was originally published by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.