Strong partners understand the importance of building on what works to expand their impact. This week, developers, public officials, funders and veterans celebrated the grand opening of Valley Brook Village II, a 50-unit service-enriched housing development for homeless and at-risk veterans on a Veterans Administration (VA) medical campus in Lyons, N.J.
The project expands on the first phase of the effort opened in 2013 with 62 supportive housing units for veterans. Both phases are built on land provided through the VA’s Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) program, which earmarks underutilized federal land for housing development to meet the needs of homeless and very low-income veterans. In addition to affordable housing, these projects offer services that help vulnerable veterans reclaim their health and their independence.
National Equity Fund, Inc., (NEF) supported both phases of the development through its Bring Them Homes initiative, which to date has supported more than 80 housing developments for veterans.
“VA support and EUL have together been a game-changer for supportive housing focused on the needs of veterans,” noted Debbie Burkart, NEF vice who heads Bring Them Homes, a collaboration with NEF’s parent, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). “EUL makes it possible to build quality, service-enriched housing that not only helps veterans come in from the streets and shelters, but actively promotes their overall well-being. After their service to our country, we owe them the chance to recover and thrive.”
For Valley Brook Village II, NEF worked with TD Bank to invest $10.7 million tied to Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and provided pre-development grants in collaboration with Citi Community Development and MetLife Foundation.
“At TD Bank, we celebrate the dedication of all military personnel for their commitment to our country,” said Phyllis Reich, vice president at TD Bank, which made a $6 million construction loan to the project in addition to its equity investment. “We are proud to support projects and resource groups geared toward our veterans, so that they can be part of a supportive community that will enable them to attain their goals and continue to live meaningful lives after military service.”
Burkart noted that the project sponsors—Peabody Properties, Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative and Windover Development—have been long-time leaders in quality supportive housing. Investors and funders in the new units have likewise demonstrated a deep commitment to expanding affordable housing for veterans, she said, even though these projects are among the most complicated to design and develop.
“We could not do this work without partners like TD Bank, Citi Community Development and MetLife Foundation,” Burkart stressed. “Their support gives veterans the chance to really come home.”