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Homeless veteran housing project awarded $27 million

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A housing project for homeless veterans has received $27 million in additional funding to complete its financing, which puts the project on the fast track for construction beginning within six months.

Lightfighter Village in Marina will be a three-story, 71-unit housing structure on 2.3 acres giving homeless veterans a place to live in perpetuity with no transitional requirements while they continue to receive case management and access to support services.

The village will be on Hayes Circle, within a half-mile of transit, employment, shopping and the Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense outpatient clinic as well as the Veterans Transition Center headquarters at Martinez Hall on what was once the Fort Ord Army base, which shuttered under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of Congress in 1994. Land from the closed Army base was conveyed to Marina, Seaside, Monterey, Del Rey Oaks and Monterey County.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the California Housing Accelerator Tier 2 awards. The $27,343,567 was made available through the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund established by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The Lightfighter Village project, a partnership between the Veterans Transition Center and EAH Housing Inc., is now fully funded with $49,281,158.

“This will expand VTC’s housing capacity by 70% with all new units being permanent supportive housing,” said Kurt Schake, Veterans Transition Center CEO. “Lightfighter Village will be dedicated to low- and extremely low-income veterans and their families.”

Schake added that Lightfighter residents will be integrated into Veterans Transition Center programs and services, with added support from the Department of Veteran Affairs and Monterey County Behavioral Health.

“Marina has been very supportive of this project, which is a partnership between EAH and VTC,” said Schake. “This affordable housing project will allow veterans to live and work in Monterey County, contributing to their well-being and the local economy.”

The joint effort started in 2014 with the goal of developing permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans.

The Lightfighter Village project was approved by the city of Marina in November 2018.

Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado said that he is glad to see this next step in the evolution of an ever-improving housing supply for veterans.

“Now they’re building this brand new housing,” said Delgado. “It’s good to see their progression. This will allow more veterans to get their lives where they want them to be and it’s really exciting.”

The project has been funded by National Equity Fund/Local Initiatives Support Corporation Grant, Monterey County – No Place Like Home California Department of Housing Community Development, No Place Like Home Capitalized Operating Subsidy Reserve, California Housing Accelerator Tier 2, Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, HUD Sec 811 Capital Grant, and Federal Home Loan Bank – San Francisco Affordable Housing Program.

According to the award announcement letter dated Sept. 6, construction of the project must commence within 180 days of the date of the letter, which means “the first land-disturbing activity associated with (the) project” would need to start by March 5, 2023.

“Technically, (Housing and Community Development) can withdraw their (California Housing Accelerator Project) award if construction does not begin within the 180-day period,” said Michael Schaier, EAH Housing project manager.

But now, with the receipt of the large funding award from the state of California Department of Housing and Community Development, the project funding has been made whole.

“The quick, strategic investments the state has made through the California Housing Accelerator brings us another step closer to the 2.5 million homes needed by 2030, as outlined in our Statewide Housing Plan,” said Gustavo Velasquez, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, in a press release. “Just one year after Governor Gavin Newsom announced the California Housing Accelerator, HCD has helped partners unlock the ability to construct over 5,000 quality affordable homes that were stuck waiting for funding. Roughly 80% of all Accelerator units will be for extremely low- to very low-income households and unhoused residents.”

EAH Housing does not expect to encounter any roadblocks now that funding for the project has been established.

“At this point, the processing of building permits and coordination with all the funding sources and finalizing the construction agreement remain, which we don’t perceive so much as an obstacle so much as typical developer coordination items,” said Schaier.

Of the total number of units, 64 will be studio apartments at roughly 415 square feet, and seven two-bedroom units of about 850 square feet, including one manager’s unit. The structure will include a community room, manager’s office, computer lab, a pet wash station, laundry facility, meditation room and a fitness room.

EAH Housing is the developer of Lightfighter Village and will manage the property once it is built and residents have moved in.

Lightfighter Village is named after the 7th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army that was primarily based at Fort Ord and would be part of the 10 acres of land the Veterans Transition Center uses for its operations including its emergency, transitional permanent housing programs and other services for veterans.

“EAH Housing and VTC are elated to have succeeded in meeting the project’s challenges from obtaining water rights and obtaining the project funding,” said Schaier.


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