Project at Waco VA aims to help local veterans transition out of homelessness

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - At Tuesday night’s Waco City Council meeting the city approved allocating $550,000 to a new housing project designed specifically for unhoused veterans. This could come out of the city’s previously existing federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

A Georgia-based nonprofit called “Solutions for Veterans” is spearheading the project. The nonprofit has already built 11 similar centers at other VA medical centers across the country.

The one in Waco will be at the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Three old buildings there will eventually transform into what’s called “Freedom’s Path at Waco.”

”It’ll be 34 studio units for homeless and near homeless veterans,” Solutions for Veterans president Craig Taylor said.

Before the real work begins, the old buildings for this housing project will need asbestos abatement and lead paint mitigation.

“These buildings were built in 1936 and I don’t think that they’ve been used, so renovations have to be made from the ground up,” Solutions for Veterans board member Stan Parker said.

A combination of federal and state tax credits, various grants and the “Solutions for Veterans” budget will fund this multi-million dollar project.

“It will cost around 11 million dollars,” Taylor said. “It could go higher than that and we have some safety valves in the event it does.”

The latest numbers from a survey called the “Point in Time Count” show that McLennan County had 74 unhoused veterans last year.

Veterans who live at Freedom’s Path at Waco will be just steps away from resources at the VA medical center to help them transition out of homelessness.

”These veterans need this because they’ve been living on the street for a long time,” Parker said. “They need to have a transitional period to be able to get back in the world.”

Solutions for Veterans said it even filed some paperwork with Congress to build this at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Waco. As long as everything clears, the nonprofit expects to break ground on Freedom’s Path at Waco by late October.