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New 17-unit building will house homeless vets

Bronx Times

It was a cold day when ground was broken on a 17-unit apartment building that will house homeless vets.

But the building itself, being constructed at 2265 Bathgate Avenue near East 183 Street and scheduled for competition in spring of 2013, should warm the hearts of many who severed our country and are now in need of help.

The housing is being built by The Bridge Mental Health and Housing Solutions, and will be called Bridge Gardens. It will be the Manhattan-based social services agency’s 11th U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development section 202/811 development, and will include permanent housing where each formerly homeless veteran will have their own studio apartment.

HUD regional director Adolfo Carrion Jr., Bridge president Cynthia Wainwright, Department of Homeless Services commissioner Seth Diamond, representatives from Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Councilman Joel Rivera, and a myriad of other state and city officials were on hand to break ground on the project on Friday, January 6.

“President [Obama] has made a commitment to end veterans homelessness in five years,” Carrion said. “We are progressing; veterans homelessness has dropped 12% and we have housed 14,000 veterans in New York and 125,000 around the country.”

These new units are indicative of the kind of turn around HUD is experiencing in housing homeless veterans in recent years, and was made possible due to strong partnerships, Carrion said.

“We have bolstered our partnership with the VA, and with our local partners: the New York City Housing Authority, HPD, Department of Homeless Services, the state and we are seeing a lot of progress,” Carrion stated. “So, 17 units, while it may sound small, is an important step. And I think that the model The Bridge has advanced here is the kind of program we want to support.”

When the building is complete, amenities should include a community room with a small kitchen, laundry room, and outdoor recreational space, according to The Bridge. There will be on-site case management services and the tenants will be referred out for services in the community and at the Bronx VA, and the facility will accept chronically homeless individuals with mental health conditions, according to The Bridge.

The city has made massive strides in ending homelessness among veterans,with two dedicated shelters and an intake center that the Department of Homeless Services runs in conjunction with the Veterans Administration, Diamond said.

“Obviously, this is one project among many that we hope will help in our efforts,” Diamond said after the groundbreaking. “We have made a lot of progress in ending homelessness, particularly street homelessness among veterans, and this should be another asset in our continuing efforts to do that.”

According to The Bridge, the project at 2265 Bathgate Avenue is one of two residences for veterans in the borough the agency is planning to open.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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