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Welcome Home, A Community for Veterans receives $1 million gift from Veterans United Home Loans to help end Veterans homelessness in mid-Missouri

December 11, 2014
Private gift kicks off the public fundraising portion for the Veterans-only housing complex

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Veterans United Home Loans announced today a $1 million donation to Welcome Home, a Community for Veterans to begin construction on the on-site apartments. The announcement of the private gift was made by Veterans United employees, and took place at the site of the future complex at 2112 Business Loop 70 East in Columbia. Statewide, local and military officials joined the announcement that included an update on the project and future public fundraising efforts.

"This is great news for our state and the mid-Missouri region," said State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, a member of the Missouri Housing Development Commission and architect of the agency's focus on homelessness. "Ensuring everyone, especially our nation's heroes, has a roof over his or her head at night is essential. This project will make sure our Veterans will get the help they need whether it is a safe place to stay for one night or an affordable unit to call their own. Public-private partnerships such as this are critical in solving homelessness in Missouri."

The complex will be the first of its kind in mid-Missouri focusing solely on Veterans.

"Our employees are committed to helping Veterans and their families find a home nationwide, and we know some of our nation's bravest need the services that will be provided to this community for Veterans," said Greg Steinhoff, president of strategic operations at Veterans United. "We believe in helping every Veteran we can, starting right here in our own backyard. This project will be a pivotal step in eliminating Veterans' homelessness in our community. Every Veteran deserves to know where home is."

The project is a partnership of Columbia Housing Authority, Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital and Welcome Home Inc.

"The Community for Veterans meets a critical need in Columbia and mid-Missouri," said Phil Steinhaus, CEO of Columbia Housing Authority. "In order for this project to be successful, we need the community's full support. With a driving force like Veterans United not only supporting us, but gifting $1 million, that makes a clear statement about their commitment to join us in ending Veterans' homelessness in our community."

The gift will help fund Patriot Place, the 25 permanent apartments. Each apartment will have one bedroom, bathroom and fully functional kitchen, with utilities included in the rent. The building will house laundry facilities, a fitness room, computer lab and office and programing spaces.

Along with the apartments, the complex will house the new Welcome Home, Inc.'s emergency shelter building with 29 temporary shelter beds and a supportive services center staffed by Welcome Home and Truman VA. The current Welcome Home location at 1206 Rangeline St. doesn't have the capacity or resources to house women and families. The new space will have a wing dedicated to them that recognizes the unique situations being faced by female Veterans, including sexual assault and domestic violence.

"This campus, this Community for Veterans solves a critical need," said Ross Bridges, board president for Welcome Home, Inc. "We look forward to completing fundraising for the emergency shelter so all services will be on-site as soon as possible."

The projected cost of the entire campus is $7.4 million. Veterans United's donation puts the first phase of the project, Patriot Place, at more than 90 percent funded and the entire project at more than 50 percent financed. Today's announcement included unveiling the Campaign Kick-off committee, a group of Columbia businesspeople who will run the public fundraising efforts to complete the project.

"It's a pretty great day in Columbia," Mayor Bob McDavid said. "Welcome Home is the only homeless shelter created to cater to Veterans between Kansas City and St. Louis so it makes sense to build this community. Add in the long-term housing and on-site services, and I think we're on to something pretty special."

CHA hopes to break ground on the apartments in early 2015 with the hopes the project will be completed in one year.

"We are beginning an aggressive fundraising campaign today," said Richard Mendenhall, co-chair of the Capital Campaign Committee. "Silent fundraising efforts have brought us to tremendous milestone of 50 percent funded for the entire community. I know Columbia, Boone County and mid-Missouri will bring us and all Veterans home soon."

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