After bringing 101 apartments for veterans to the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, Madison developer The Alexander Company and the Center for Veterans Issues are lining up funding to start work in the coming months on a $19.5 million expansion of the Vets Place Central building.
Located at 3330 W. Wells St., Vets Place Central has 32 rooms. With 74 veterans living there, that means multiple people share rooms as they transition from homelessness to future employment and a more permanent living situation.
The planned four-story addition will bring the count to 81 rooms, giving each vet a personal living space, while expanding its amenities and services. Vets Place Central’s last major expansion was almost 100 years ago, said Eduardo Garza Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Veterans Issues that runs the property.
“We want to make sure they have their own space; even though they are homeless and came to us with nothing, having their own room is a sense of pride and rehabilitation,” said Garza, a U.S. Navy vet. “We are preparing them to move out at some point and have their own place.”
Last year, the center’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program served 187 people, placing 131 into jobs with an average salary of $14.39 per hour.
“We’re building them back up, using our workforce development programs so they can sustain themselves when they go back to living on their own,” Garza said. “Even when they leave us and start living on their own, we still provide case-management services.”
The expansion project received a boost this month with the award of $1.4 million in affordable housing tax credits form the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
“This WHEDA award really makes this development possible,” said Jonathan Beck, development project manager for The Alexander Company.
The project in March 2022 was awarded a $4.55 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, it would be difficult to rely only on private fundraising to fill out the remainder of the budget, Beck said.
This article was originally published in the Milwaukee Business Journal.