A new apartment building will further solidify an Olympia shelter’s status as a de facto hub for serving homeless veterans in Thurston County.
The project, known as Devoe II Veterans Housing, will be built behind Drexel House at 604 Devoe St. SE in Olympia. An official groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday.
Upon completion in April 2017, the four-story building will feature 50 low-income studio apartments, as well as offices, laundry facilities, meeting rooms, storage and parking.
The campus will include outdoor seating and plenty of room for veterans to walk their service dogs. Inside, the apartments will each have at least two windows to let in as much natural light as possible.
The apartments will house veterans who suffer from chronic homelessness or a disability. Tenants will be selected when the project nears completion.
The apartments are an extension of Drexel House, which is operated by Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. For nine years, Drexel House has been accommodating single homeless adults and has seen an increase in the number of homeless veterans seeking help, program manager Bary Hanson said.
At this time, Hanson said 29 out of 52 people sheltered at Drexel House are veterans, and veterans represent about 40 percent of the program’s overall clientele.
At the new building, the veterans can stay as long as they need to stay.
“Veterans are a specific population and have specific needs,” said Bonnie Hill, CCS division director for southwest housing management. “Having this housing is really going to allow a clearer pathway from emergency shelter into permanent housing.”
Over the years, Drexel House has worked with organizations like Veterans Affairs to screen clients, connect them to medical benefits and improve their access to affordable housing, for example. Hanson said any veteran organization in Thurston County can use the Drexel House as a space for serving clients.
“Adding these 50 units is a way of putting our money where our mouth is,” said Hanson, who has been with Drexel House since it opened in 2007.
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