Advancing National Service

Here’s An Idea to Stabilize Neighborhoods and Help Veterans

July 8, 2014
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Here’s An Idea to Stabilize Neighborhoods and Help Veterans
An Iraq War veteran and his son. John Moore/Getty Images
This California community houses former soldiers in rehabbed abandoned homes.

It’s a simple idea: Why not revitalize blighted communities by housing heroes in vacant homes?

In Pittsburg, California, a Bay Area town that’s come upon some hard times recently, disabled veteran J.R. Wilson is rallying the community by attempting to solve the problems of homelessness among local service members and neighborhoods full of abandoned houses.

Wilson, the executive director of the nonprofit Delta Veterans Group, told Angela Hart of the Contra Costa Times, “We are working with local leaders and the community to bring veterans into our neighborhoods and to fill our vacant houses. This will not only help fight our blight problems, but it’ll help veterans who are transitioning into civilian life and who may be facing homelessness or who could have suicidal thoughts.”

On June 28, the American Legion Post in Antioch, California hosted a “Veterans Home-Buying Triage” event, bringing together local veterans with real estate professionals, mortgage lenders, and city officials. Wilson helped organize a similar event in Pittsburg a few weeks earlier.

Wilson’s goal is to bring the area back to its former glory. “Growing up here, we never used to see this much vacancy or homelessness,” he said. “We really want to get the attention of asset managers and city officials, then work with code enforcement and get those houses on the market.”

The new programs come just in the nick of time for Army veteran Alan Johnson, who told Hart, “We just got married, and we found out we’re expecting.” After meeting with a local mortgage consultant at the Pittsburg event, Johnson is now well on his way to finding an affordable home for his growing family.

MORE: Minnesota Looks to a Historic Structure to Help End Veteran Homelessness

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