Homeless veterans effort in the 'closing stretch"

Homeless veterans effort in the 'closing stretch"

What started as hope has become reality for American Legion Post 107 in Hoboken, N.J.

After Post 107 was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the Hoboken community, led by its Rotary Club, conducted fundraisers to help get the post back on its feet. Furniture was donated, and volunteers helped put up new drywall and paint the inside. The post facility reopened in early 2015.

But as renovations continued, the post was approached by Monarch Housing Associates, a nonprofit that, among other missions, works with consumers, providers and family organizations to develop, manage and operate permanent, affordable and supportive housing for the homeless. The thought was that funds available through Monarch could be used to help renovate Post 107 while adding housing for homeless veterans.

The thought is now reality. Ground was broken in October of 2017, construction began in April of 2018, and Post 107 Commander John Carey said the goal is to open the facility to house veterans in early 2019.

“We’re coming down the home stretch,” Carey said. “We’re hoping to finish by February and move six veterans into it. We get the rest of the money and we’ll be home free.”

More than $500,000 has been raised for construction so far, including donations from other American Legion posts and funding secured through state and local government agencies.

In addition to Post 107 and Monarch, the effort has included the city of Hoboken, Hudson (N.J.) County, The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Hoboken Rotary and the Hoboken Shelter.

Carey said that local support has been a big key to the project’s success. “They love it,” he said. “We’re next to million-dollar condominiums, and they had a public meeting about (the project). I thought they’d stop us. The biggest complaint was how many parking spaces we were going to lose.”

Carey said reaching this point was satisfying, especially considering where the post was following Sandy. “It feels great,” he said. “We’re the only post in the country doing anything like this. There have been posts given land to build homeless housing. But we’re going to be in the same building as these homeless veterans. We’re looking forward to finishing it.”

For more information on Post 107 and its project, click here.