Our Turn to Serve with Supportive Veterans Housing

The Center broke ground on May 22 for Cedar Crossing Apartments, the first phase of the Veterans Housing Initiative. Mayor Burchett and many other officials from Knox Country and the City of Knoxville were in attendanc

Leon Wyrick, Construction Supervisor for Creative Structures, looks over the blueprints for the renovation of Willow Cottage on the Lake Shore campus.

e to commemorate the ceremony and celebrate the initiative. Cedar Crossing is one of two cities dedicated to Veterans Housing which will offer affordable and safe housing for veterans who have been homeless or are struggling with a mental illness.

The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation has raised $1.83 million to develop and sustain two different housing facilities in order to serve, at any given time, 21 homeless veterans with a mental illness and/or a substance abuse disorder. There will be two phases to the project which will include new construction of 8 units and the rehabilitation of 15 units in Knoxville.

The Center is committed to extending our supportive housing services to homeless veterans, a population that is currently underserved. For almost a decade, national studies have shown that one out of every four people living in homelessness is a veteran. The latest national figures now say around one in every five people who are homeless also served in the military. Although the numbers are decreasing, the nation is experiencing a troubling new trend. Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are going from serving their country to life on the streets much faster than the generation of veterans who served in Vietnam.

Not only is the Greater Knoxville area a crossroads of two major interstates, but Knox Country also has Tennessee’s highest veteran population east of Nashville. The Center understands that veterans who are either homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless need access to integrated services to ensure the best possible outcomes for recovery and resilience. The Center’s recent experiences in helping homeless veterans gain permanent housing has only revealed the vast void in our community of services specifically designed for veterans.

Willow Cottage was gutted for renovations.

In order to qualify, prospective residents will be homeless or at-risk of homelessness on intake and are likely to have little to no income. The Center will collaborate with the Veterans Administration (VA) to identify potential residents.

It is of the utmost importance that homeless veterans have access to integrated services to ensure the best possible outcomes for recovery and resilience. Supportive housing can be the first step in addressing complex factors like mental illness, addiction, and job loss that compound a homeless veteran’s ability to be healthy and successful.