Arizona State Representative Quang Nguyen (R-Phoenix) recently presented a ceremonial check for $2.4 million in state funding to support a housing project which aims to assist homeless veterans.
“America’s veterans have given so much of themselves to protect our freedoms and way of life, it’s important that we do everything we can to support them,” Nguyen said in a press release. “This funding is going to help realize an amazing project for our veterans in Yavapai County, providing housing support and other critical services for those who have served and are in need.”
The project is led by U.S.VETS, an organization that aims to end veteran homelessness and give them the dignity and independence they deserve. In a partnership with Gorman & Company, U.S.VETS-Prescott seeks to transform the VA Fort Whipple campus into a place of housing for veterans.
Fort Whipple was originally founded as a home for the U.S. Army in 1863 and was considered the capital of the Arizona Territory for a time. The project seeks to renovate historic officer quarters and build 103 new housing units on the Fort Whipple campus for elderly, at-risk, and homeless veterans. Furthermore, the campus will also offer supportive services for veterans, including counseling, case management, workforce development, and health care. The expected opening date for the new housing is July 2024.
After news of the funding broke, Carole Benedict, executive director of U.S.VETS-Prescott, released a statement thanking Nguyen for recognizing veterans’ needs.
“This investment demonstrates that Representative Nguyen recognizes the urgency of our need to help our veterans, who have been especially hard hit by the shortage of affordable housing,” Benedict said. “We are grateful for his advocacy on behalf of the veterans in our community. This funding will help us provide a home and a stable future for our vulnerable senior veterans who need a safe place to live.”
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, the $2.4 million comes from the fiscal year 2023 budget, recently signed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R). The budget also provides $10 million to waive higher-education fees for veterans’ spouses. Furthermore, Ducey recently signed two veteran-focused laws, House Bill (HB) 2741, which waives state business licensing fees for military spouses and honorably discharged veterans, and HB 270, which provides a discount on hunting and fishing licenses to veterans who have a service-related disability or have received the Purple Heart.
According to World Population Review, Arizona has the ninth-biggest homeless population, totaling 10,979 – just below the average of 11,387. Of the homeless population in Arizona, approximately 910 are veterans.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR), showed that Arizona saw a 10 percent increase in its homeless veteran population between 2020 and 2021. However, as a whole, the homeless veteran population has decreased by over 50 percent in America from 2009 to 2021.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Quang Nguyen” by Quang H. Nguyen. Background Photo “Yavapai County Courthouse” by Marine 69-71. CC BY-SA 4.0.