Hundreds Celebrate Grand Opening of Supportive Housing for Homeless Vets
(photo courtesy of Swords to Plowshares. pictured above from l to r: Leon Winston, Swords to Plowshares; Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee; and Norman Fong, Chinatown Community Development Center)
The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Veterans Commons in San Francisco was celebrated by public officials, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and more than a hundred supporters on January 30.
Developed by Swords to Plowshares, a veteran service agency, and Chinatown Community Development Center, an established nonprofit developer, Veterans Commons now provides supportive housing with onsite services to 75 formerly homeless veterans with disabilities. The residents are single homeless veterans who are disabled by mental illness, chronic substance abuse, HIV, post traumatic stress disorder, other severe mental health disorders, and/or physical disabilities.
Swords to Plowshares and the Department of Veterans Affairs provide on-site supportive services to meet the specialized needs of the residents.
“After more than 35 years working with homeless and at-risk veterans in San Francisco, I know what it takes to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares’ Executive Director. “For Vietnam-era veterans who have suffered for decades, permanent supportive housing is the solution that will save their lives.”
The property for Veterans Commons, a landmark building located at 150 Otis Street at the edge of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley and Mission District neighborhoods, was made available through the City’s Surplus Property Program.
CSH provided early predevelopment financing to the project. Additional funders include San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, San Francisco Housing Authority, San Francisco Human Services Agency, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Housing Finance Agency, The Home Depot Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs via the HUD VASH program, and Wells Fargo Bank as the construction lender and investor.
In addition to Swords to Plowshares’ existing supportive housing programs, which provide homes to hundreds of formerly homeless veterans each year, Veterans Commons will contribute to San Francisco’s efforts to significantly reduce veteran homelessness.
“We are so thrilled to have Swords to Plowshares as a partner in building this milestone home for veterans," said Reverend Norman Fong, Chinatown CDC's Executive Director. “The completion of Veterans Commons is one of the most happy and joyful occasions and a new beginning for veterans.”
About Swords to Plowshares
Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community based not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, employment and training, housing and legal assistance to homeless and low-income veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Swords promotes and protects the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state and national entities.
About Chinatown Community Development Center
Chinatown Community Development Center has a 35-year history of providing community organizing, planning, youth development, housing development, property management and tenant services to communities across San Francisco. CCDC believes in a comprehensive vision of community that includes a quality environment, healthy neighborhood economies, and active volunteer associations. CCDC is committed to empowering low-income residents, building coalitions, embracing diversity and advocating for social and economic justice.