When St. Michael’s Veterans Center opened its doors to Kansas City’s homeless veterans last summer, its 58 apartment units quickly filled up and other veterans clamored to get on its waiting list.
So demand is high for a 59-unit second apartment building, with construction slated to begin in late March.
While the first building included about 2,000 square feet of office space for support services to the veterans, the second building will contain a 7,500-square-foot support services center, thanks to a city contribution of about $1 million in federal community block grant money.
The City Council is scheduled to approve that spending next week.
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“That was part of the city’s commitment to the project,” said Stuart Bullington, Kansas City’s assistant director for neighborhood and housing services, who has worked on planning the St. Michael’s project for years. “That’s ready to go.”
So far, Bullington said, the city’s hopes that St. Michael’s would be a haven for struggling homeless veterans have been fulfilled.
“Everything we hear from everyone is it’s a wonderful facility for the veterans,” he said.
Along with the city’s help, St. Michael’s is the result of a partnership of Catholic Charities, which oversees the support services; Yarco Co., which is constructing and operating the buildings; and U.S. Bank, which provided the financing. The first two phases include about $22 million in total development costs, mostly financed through tax credits. A third apartment building is being considered, but financing has not yet been identified.
The campus at 3838 Chelsea Drive is on 24 acres near 39th Street and Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and just southeast of the VA Medical Center. Services provided include physical and dental care, mental health counseling, and job and computer training.
Yarco CEO Jonathan Cohn said construction on the second building is expected to begin in late March and take a year. The first building, he said, is fully occupied, with 80 people on a waiting list.
“There continues to be a huge demand,” Cohn said, adding that in the past six months Catholic Charities and other agencies have been able to custom-design services for the veterans. Nineteen residents are employed, he said, and many of those got help finding jobs through St. Michael’s.
“What we’re doing is making a difference in the lives of people who have served our country,” he said.