Sunday, October 21, 2018

From Firehouse to Homeless Veterans House in Santa Rosa

Veterans find new affordable housing in old Santa Rosa firehouse

Press Democrat
Will Schmitt
October 19, 2018
About 40 veterans have housing vouchers but cannot find a place to live due to Sonoma County’s shortage of affordable housing, officials said. “We need about a thousand of these,” Mayor Chris Coursey said at Friday’s open house. “Maybe not a thousand, but we need a lot of these.”
Kent Porter/Press Democrat
Traci Swank-Chrisco can’t wait to move in. Standing between the old Benton Street firehouse and a new apartment complex, she reminisced about being homeless twice in her life, including a stretch where she was raising her son. The Santa Rosa native and former Army private has a place with roommates now, but the second-floor apartment at the new Benton Veterans Village will be just for her when she moves in next week.

“It’s the first place that I’ve had since I got out of the Army that I don’t have to share with a lover, a child, or a roommate,” she said. “It’s monumental.”

The new homes for Swank- Chrisco and six other formerly homeless veterans are part of the $3.6 million Benton Veterans Village development, which came to be through a joint effort led by the nonprofit developer Community Housing Sonoma County. The new apartments were built adjacent to the repurposed Santa Rosa firehouse, which in recent years has served as a food pantry.

An open house was held Friday to celebrate the progress and the promise of the property.
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