With awareness increasing about veteran homelessness and its causes, it is clear we must find creative, humane, and cost-effective ways to address the issue.
Being home to many current military members and veterans, it makes sense for Glendale to do what we can to assist those members who have been displaced due to economic hardship and other challenges.
One of the projects I have spearheaded on behalf of homeless veterans achieved a new milestone during the September 12th meeting of the Glendale City Council, when my colleagues approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Veterans Community Project (VCP), a group dedicated to providing transitional housing for veterans.
I learned about VCP while attending a National League of Cities Conference in Kansas City. The non-profit organization was founded by combat veterans to address the needs of homeless veterans across the country.
VCP employs a “unique community engagement model that includes a Veteran Outreach Center and a VCP Village.” The VCP model provides housing solutions that are “safe, comfortable, dignified, and private,” along with on-site services, “including case management, counseling, and access to other programs and services that a veteran may need.”
As a result of the Council vote, the city is authorized to perform the necessary preliminary work with VCP to develop 50 small homes that will provide veterans with transitional housing.
The site of the proposed project is located near the Sandy Coor VFW Post. The motto of the Sandy Coor VFW Post 1433 is “We honor the dead by helping the living.” The group is committed to helping their fellow veterans and its members have long served the Glendale community with empathy and distinction.
Proximity to the post will provide easy access for veterans and their families to the open arms of men and women who have served this country and who continue to serve today, because they understand the hardships veterans sometimes experience due to their sacrifices.
The vote we cast this month covers “pre-development expenses include hiring consultants to assist with zoning, site plan design, pre-construction activities, fundraising activities, and project management.”
Specifically, the MOU authorizes “the reimbursement of up to 10% of the state allocation for pre-development expenses while the final agreements are negotiated, allowing the project to proceed in a timely manner.”
The state of Arizona has appropriated $3,214,500 in state General Funds for this project.
After discussing the project with members of my Military Mission Team, I am further convinced that this project is not only necessary but could become a blueprint for other municipalities to follow.
I expect to have the final negotiated agreements brought forward to the City Council soon and it is my sincere hope that my fellow Councilmembers will continue their support for this project. I hope the general public will continue to support it as well.
As noted by city staff, the most recent data published by the Maricopa Association of Governments shows “the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has increased 20% since 2022.” Given the fact there are no permanent shelters or transitional housing facilities currently in Glendale, the time for action is now.
Jerry Weiers is mayor of Glendale.