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Homeless shelter to open for disabled or mentally ill vets

Toledo's first housing for disabled or mentally ill homeless veterans will open next year, in part because of a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) announced yesterday.

Combined with another $200,000 provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the grant will pay for renovating a 21-unit apartment building at 944 Griffin St. into one-bedroom, transitional housing for the veterans.

The program will be “a helping hand” for people who helped protect the freedom of the United States, Jon Ray Schneider, a regional liaison for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said during a news conference at a VA Outpatient Center on Glendale Avenue.

Miss Kaptur said the announcement afforded her the chance to bring home results from a program whose legislation she co-sponsored 10 years ago and pursued for years before that.

Veterans are estimated to represent between one quarter and one half of all homeless people, and until recently they were a forgotten population, she said.

The housing program will “get them out from under the bridges and out of the county jail” and provide the medical care and addiction services that many homeless veterans need, she said.

“We have finally engaged this,” Miss Kaptur said. “As a country, we have said, `We see this, and we will do something about it.'”

The building will be renovated and managed by Neighborhood Properties, Inc., a nonprofit organization. The veterans affairs department will pay $270,000 toward the first two years' operating expenses, while the housing department will pay $350,000 during the first three years.

John Hoover, Neighborhood Properties' executive director, said construction will begin this winter and the facility should open by late spring. Transitional housing clients may occupy apartments up to two years, Mr. Hoover said, though most should remain shorter periods.

Housing candidates will be identified through the assistance of local homeless shelters and food kitchens.

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