World War I-era nursing home to house area veterans

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Twenty homeless veterans, most of whom are already receiving services at Augusta's Charlie Norwood Veterans Administration Medical Center, are closer to independent living with the VA's award of a $391,185 grant and per-diem funding to a local nonprofit.

A nursing home at the uptown Veterans Administration campus will be converted into transitional housing for 20 veterans.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
A nursing home at the uptown Veterans Administration campus will be converted into transitional housing for 20 veterans.

The funds are part of about $1.2 million Hope House Inc. is seeking to remodel an unused World War I-era nursing home on the Norwood center's uptown campus into 20 studio apartments, Hope House Executive Director Karen Saltzman said.

The Freedom's Path development, which includes a second phase of 50 units of permanent supportive housing in an adjacent building, came under fire in May when residents of nearby Highland Park objected to the complex using an entrance on Maryland Avenue, which runs between the western edge of the campus and their neighborhood.

Responding to pressure, Augusta commissioners refused to rezone the tract unless the new entrance wasn't created, so Freedom's Path will use the main VA campus entrance on Wrightsboro Road, Hope House officials said.

Saltzman said the grant and per-diem funding, to be used for supportive services for residents with substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and other service-related disabilities, "brings us a step closer to answering a critical need for our veterans."

With construction set to begin in January, Freedom's Path is scheduled to be ready to open its doors to 20 male veterans, most of whom are current residents of the nearby VA Domiciliary, next summer, she said.

"This is transitional housing," Saltzman said. "It's not a halfway house; it's not a homeless shelter. It's to transition them back into the community."

The need is there. Unlike Vietnam veterans, who averaged eight to 10 years out of the military before becoming homeless, returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets are winding up homeless in six to 12 months, she said.

Hope House, which already operates housing with Augusta Housing Authority for homeless women and their families, is developing the project with Affordable Housing Solutions Inc. and Cooperative Resource Center. The funds will also pay for transportation for the veterans.

Although the award allows the construction project to move forward, developers have applied to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and other sources to complete the first phase, Saltzman said.

The project also will benefit from tax credits for rehabilitated historic properties, and when renovations are completed, both structures will be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, said Craig Taylor at Affordable Housing Solutions.

The former hospital rooms, which once housed several residents separated by curtains, will undergo substantial renovations to become one-person apartments, Taylor said.

The work will preserve architectural features that will enable visitors "100 years from now" to get an idea of what a post-World War I nursing home was like, he said.

Unlike the nursing home residents, Freedom's Path residents will be free to come and go, Taylor said.

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nerthus
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nerthus 10/27/10 - 07:48 am
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I think it is a shame that

I think it is a shame that veterans need such a place but certainly am glad they now will have a place to live. Shame on the neighbors for objecting these men are veterans that risked their lives for us and we do not want an entrance into the neighborhood SHAME

mable8
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mable8 10/27/10 - 09:59 am
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Thanks to Karen Saltzman and

Thanks to Karen Saltzman and her group for looking after these veterans. The neglect of these veterans is deplorable; and the attitude displayed by the neighborhood is not only discriminatory, but vulgar and obscene. The only reason you folks exist to enjoy the freedoms you have is because of the sacrifices made by these veterans. Just because some vets made it in society when they returned home, doesn't mean that you have the right to look down on those who didn't adjust. Highland Park residents--you are totally disgusting.

fishman960
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fishman960 10/27/10 - 11:25 am
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nerthus and mable, allow me

nerthus and mable, allow me to explain. I'm sure you remember me from the discussions about the proposed gate on Maryland Ave.

The neighborhood was not against the Vet's housing proposal, but the gate on our narrow street. People fly up and down this street all the time. At the proposed site of the gate, there is a blind spot where you can't see the oncoming traffic coming at you. Accidents will occur.

Have you been in this neighborhood? All the stores and services are located on Wrightsboro Rd, so they will be walking the same distance to get to where they are going. If the Vet's are walking to anyplace on Gdn Hwy, they have at least a mile to walk to get there.

All you folks making negative comments about the neighbors are really misinformed and are just jumping on the bandwagon of mistreated Vets. If you really care about this issue, then do what you can to really help a Vet. Calling a neighborhood names is not helping a homeless Vet at all, and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise. Make a donation, or better yet, donate a working automobile to their cause.

Neighborhood associations are always looking for ways to decrease traffic and speed in their neighborhoods. What's different in this case? We have a V.A. next to us. If it was ANY other entity, no one would give a flip.

Finally, with the grant and per-diem, transportation will be provided making this a moot point.

sassy
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sassy 10/27/10 - 01:38 pm
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Fishman, thank you! Very

Fishman, thank you! Very well spoken. I know from my deceased father's experience in his situation. He was POW MIA in WW2. We couldn't get diddly squat from Norwood or his office to give any aid or much less talk to. They turned deaf ears on everything and said nothing could be done. We finally gave up and did best we could with what we had.

dvdbiggs
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dvdbiggs 10/27/10 - 06:18 pm
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Karen this project is a great

Karen this project is a great asset for our veterans, but I hope that the original goal for Hope House Inc. is not lost or forgotten. Dr. Carrier and the hard working staff at Hope House Inc. labored many long hours to get the new facility built and to provide better housing, medical care, jobs and respect for the homeless women of the Augusta area. As I remember their goal was to provide this care to the dual diagnosed women, due to lack of care provided to them. The program was working and I hope that this project is not neglected to promote the one that you are now advocating.

Runner46
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Runner46 10/27/10 - 07:22 pm
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Considering today's job

Considering today's job market and a number of non-transferable-to-civilian military jobs, it is important to allow a certain percentage of our veterans a period of time to adjust and re-train to a job where they can support themselves. There is a need, and the VA is doing a fine job to fill that need.

corgimom
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corgimom 10/28/10 - 06:28 pm
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"and the attitude displayed

"and the attitude displayed by the neighborhood is not only discriminatory, but vulgar and obscene."

Mable, not too many people want substance abusers or PTSD people in their neighborhood- like the methadone clinic in Evans- and it has nothing to do with being a veteran.

A whole lot of those people weren't in too good of shape before they went into the service, and being in the service just exacerbated their problems- and while they can function in society, there can still be a lot of problems. To suggest that they are being discriminatory is being pretty harsh, I think.

It's hard to live around substance abusers and PTSD and mentally ill people. Even with the best treatment and best efforts, it's difficult.

And that's the reality of it.

dvdbiggs
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dvdbiggs 04/21/11 - 02:23 pm
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What happend to this project?

What happend to this project?

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