Construction could begin by the end of the year on a four-story Olympia building intended to house homeless people and veterans.
The project, called Devoe II Veterans Housing, will occupy two parcels behind the Drexel House at 604 Devoe St. SE and 611 Pattison St. SE.
As part of Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, the new veterans housing will be an extension of Drexel House. That facility already houses single homeless adults in 35 studio apartments and 16 emergency shelter beds. Roughly one-third of Drexel House’s clients are veterans.
The new project calls for 50 low-income studio apartments, with at least 25 units set aside for veterans, according to the land-use application. It also will include offices, laundry rooms, meeting rooms, storage and parking for 27 vehicles. The developer plans to complete construction on the 29,439-square-foot building by November 2016.
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The veteran-specific units were designated as part of Catholic Community Services effort to serve that part of the population. Affordable housing brings stability to veterans, especially those suffering trauma from military service or struggling to transition into civilian life, said Bonnie Hill, CCS division director for southwest housing management.
About 90 percent of veterans served by CCS in Thurston County suffer from a disability, Hill said. Some veterans have been recently discharged from the military with nowhere to live. Other veterans are chronically homeless while dealing with brain injuries, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse.
The new facility will serve as permanent housing. In addition, CCS has a nearly 97 percent success rate of finding some type of housing for veterans in Thurston County, Hill said.
“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with veterans in the community,” Hill said.
The project was approved for $8 million in federal tax credit equity by the state Housing Finance Commission. The tax credits help developers raise money for new construction by selling the credits to investors.
The public is invited to comment on the Devoe project during an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday (June 10) at Olympia City Hall. Public comments will be part of the city’s overall review and help determine how the project aligns with city codes, said Leonard Bauer, deputy director of community planning and development. The Site Plan Review Committee will have final say on the project.
The Devoe Street project isn’t the only housing in the works that will serve homeless veterans. The Low Income Housing Institute of Seattle is planning to build a 43-unit development called Olympia Commons at State Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Olympia.
About 8 percent of the homeless population in Thurston County identifies as veterans, according to the homeless census organizers. The 2014 census counted 45 veterans out of a total of 599 homeless individuals.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that about 12 percent of the adult homeless population consists of veterans, and about 41 percent of the homeless veterans are between ages 31-50.
According to 2014 data, Washington state has about 603,623 military veterans, with about 32,000 in Thurston County.