Homeless program has VA neighbors concerned

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A potential housing program for homeless veterans at the Uptown VA hospital has some in the Summerville area concerned about its impact on their neighborhood. But VA officials said the program will be structured and that a homeless program already there is causing no adverse effects.

About 40 people attended a public hearing Monday on a potential transitional housing program for homeless veterans at the Uptown Division of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. The site is one of 150 nationwide where the VA is evaluating unused buildings and land for community programs.

The hearing is one of the first steps toward reusing two buildings and about seven acres on the Uptown site, and in the next several weeks a request for proposals will go out seeking developers to create and operate the programs, said Kelli Emery, the project manager with the Office of Asset Enterprise Management for the VA. The VA does not provide funding for the programs and expects in-kind services for veterans, such as counseling and job training, in return for use of the space.

Neighbors Colin Thompson and Beth Dale were concerned about what a homeless program could do to the area.

"Is it going to be like downtown where you see the homeless wandering through the neighborhood?" Mrs. Dale asked.

The residents of the transitional program will be appropriate for the setting and should not be a concern, said Kathleen Scott, the director of homeless initiatives for the Augusta VA. For eight years the Uptown Division has had a 60-bed program that mainly houses the homeless, she said.

"It's going to be no different," Ms. Scott said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (16) Add comment
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justus4
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justus4 12/09/08 - 04:47 am
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This program is obviously
Unpublished

This program is obviously needed to assist veterans and provide help for those suffering from svc-connected disabilities. The neighbors concerned are ill-founded and should be correctly informed that these veterans responded to their country's call and should not be looked down on. And these so-called neighbors are probably the first to hollar "lets go to war" but don't have a clue to the human cost of such actions. The Uptown Division has both the buildings and the acres, so lets get it done for our veterans.

white_trash
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white_trash 12/09/08 - 07:26 am
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Hey Summerville residents, I

Hey Summerville residents, I know some of those houses you live in have extra rooms. Maybe you could take in a vet or two, then they would not be homeless any longer.

ishefa
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ishefa 12/09/08 - 07:30 am
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It's okay for these veterans

It's okay for these veterans to fight and die to protect the nice plosh communites like Sumerville, who wave their red white and blue banners in front of their homes in the name of patriotism, but it is not okay to help those veterans returning who now needs their help. What a pack of hypocrties! Shame on you Summerville.

JENNPAT
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JENNPAT 12/09/08 - 09:01 am
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i can not understand the

i can not understand the people who live in summerville.if it was not for our vets they would not have a beautiful neighborhood.these vets fought for us and lots of them suffer everyday due to this .and many don't have homes to go to every night to rest.lets give them a hand and show we people in augusta care a friend of the vets

MtnMan
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MtnMan 12/09/08 - 09:10 am
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I am so proud of the people

I am so proud of the people commmenting on this subject. I really thought I was going to read a bunch of Augustans siding with the Summerville people...I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF YOU! Several years ago a writer working for this newspaper complained about the taxpayers money being used to construct out buildings at the VA for people who wanted to smoke. I wish I would have kept His name...the little rat!

yak11
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yak11 12/09/08 - 10:05 am
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Okay now, the NIMBY attitude

Okay now, the NIMBY attitude is in high dudgeon, but why? Its not that the residents hate veterans. Its rather that they have seen similar programs that became magnets for problems and all they saw was truly ill people just protected at the expense of the citizenry. Certainly the VA will enforce this program properly.

SusieQ
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SusieQ 12/09/08 - 10:37 am
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Let's use some of these empty

Let's use some of these empty buildings to house our homeless Veterans. As for Summerville, put up with it, they have protected your lives for years. Donate some of those clothes hanging in your closet, especially winter coats to help clothe some of these men. It's our duty!! SusieQ

KingJames
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KingJames 12/09/08 - 10:50 am
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Yak1, the VA already has a

Yak1, the VA already has a program for homeless vets that the residents have not complained about. It sounds like the VA just wants to expand it's services, and that most of the residents of Summerville didn't even know that the current program was in place. They seem to not understand that they are already living with homeless vets passing through their neighborhoods on the way to the VA. I guess knowing about it makes them have a "not in my neighborhood" mentality. As a veteran with service connected disabilities, I am glad that this is happening. I consider myself fortunate to still be able to work and provide for myself. There are far too many of my fellow veterans who can't. This is a much-needed service.

KingJames
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KingJames 12/09/08 - 10:52 am
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And it's nice to see that we

And it's nice to see that we can all agree on a subject sometime.

Nothing else to say
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Nothing else to say 12/09/08 - 11:02 am
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Don't the residents of

Don't the residents of Summerville remember when the "Lenwood Division" housed only psych patients??? Did they have problems with the vets then? I don't think so. If they did, certainly the city of Augusta wouldn't have given the day care facility next door permission to build and operate a day care center for children. The VA grounds are surrounded by a fence have limited entrances and exits, and are patrolled by VA Police 24/7. If the vets have a place to go and feel safe I doubt you'll have trouble from them.

butterfoot
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butterfoot 12/09/08 - 11:05 am
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THE REAL STORY- this is not

THE REAL STORY- this is not government funded! The VA will LEASE the land to a private company for housing that Vets get preferred treatment, but not exclusive! Any leftover beds will made available to any HOMELESS person. Not just Vets!!! Please observe the bus stop at the VA and ride up to the bus stop at Daniel Village- a little difference between the two? You bet. No homeless in my neighborhood!

KingJames
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KingJames 12/09/08 - 02:49 pm
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That's very charitable of you

That's very charitable of you butterfoot. When this happens, and I'm almost certain it will, I hope people without homes don't bother you with their existence. You are a true elitist.

jack
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jack 12/09/08 - 04:26 pm
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Justus4, (Gasp!) I totally

Justus4, (Gasp!) I totally agree with you. Those vets gave their all for all of us, including the "neighbors" in Summerville. Buterfoot, you ever serve your county? I seriously doubt it.

butterfoot
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butterfoot 12/09/08 - 04:51 pm
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I am addressing your standard

I am addressing your standard homeless bum-NOT VETS. A Veteran of this Nations Armed Forces deserves all the help he or she can get, homeless or not. Card carrying Republican here, people. But this program is not strictly for those who served this great nation. That is my gripe. Got it?

SCGAL53
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SCGAL53 12/09/08 - 05:41 pm
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Just because a person is

Just because a person is homeless does not mean that person is a criminal. I'm sure this program will have guidelines and the neighborhood will remain safe. If you don't like the neighborhood- move!

DEVGRU
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DEVGRU 12/09/08 - 09:02 pm
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Get a life bluebloods. If it

Get a life bluebloods. If it weren't for these people you would be lying in a trench somewhere. They have been walking those streets for years. It will be no different than it is today. It's more their streets than ours. Some of them gave their souls for us.

SusieQ
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SusieQ 12/09/08 - 09:20 pm
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The Volunteer Services at the

The Volunteer Services at the Uptown VA has had a homeless program for Years. I have carried many loads of clothes there, which are cleaned and washed (even though they are clean) to be used to clothed the homeless Veterans. At this time of year they are usually in need of winter coats and warm clothing. Let's give these men a warm place to sleep--we owe them!! SusieQ

junket83
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junket83 12/09/08 - 10:09 pm
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Sounds like most of the

Sounds like most of the commenters did not attend the VA hearing. If they did they would have known there was very few negative comments from either veterans advocates or neighbors. The few concerns raised by nieghbors were not objections as much as inquiries to better understand the proposal and its potential impact.

What the article fails to point out is that the proposed area of the VA property is in the back corner along Maryland Avenue. It would have a separate entrance/exit onto Maryland Avenue and will impact the neighborhood between Highland Ave., Maryland Ave. and Monte Santo Ave. more than it would Summerville. Maryland Ave. is very narrow in places and does not provide adequate space for pedestrians.

While the proximity to VA services will be ideal for veterans, as Butterfoot points out this proposed lease program would not only be for veterans, but would provide veterans with preference. Therein lies the problem for many veterans advocates that raised concern over non-veterans receiving care or services on VA property.

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