Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 27, 2014

Jackson Street Commons nearing completion

FSA project receives $50,000 in contributions; hopes to be open by April.

By Martin Slagter Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Judy Dennis can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the Jackson Street Commons veteran housing project approaches the final stages of both fundraising and construction.

Dennis, the executive director of the Family Service Association of Howard County, was thrilled to learn of a pair of contributions totaling $50,000 that will help the project reach its fundraising goals.

The contributions came from the Center Township Board of Trustees and the Howard County Board of Commissioners and county council, which each provided $25,000 through a community services contract.

“We appreciate the community stepping up to the plate,” Dennis said. “We’re pleased to be able to offer a service like this to the community. It’s been a long road, but we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The latest contributions leave the FSA just $125,000 short of the $3.6 million needed to fund the project entirely. The FSA continues to fundraise and seek donations to fill the gap.

Dennis said additional fundraising has resulted in furnishing provided for all of the apartment units inside Jackson Street Commons.

Inclement weather has set back the 27-unit apartment complex project for disabled homeless veterans with a new target completion date of March 31 for the complex located on Jackson Street near Apperson Way.

“They’ve encountered some problems with getting the permanent heat on inside the building,” Dennis said. “They are bringing in [equipment to thaw] the inside. Construction for things like the flooring can’t be laid until the permanent heat is on.”

Land for the complex was donated by the county, while FSA received funding through a $2.5-million Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority grant. Community donations and a number of fundraisers sponsored by the VFW Post No. 1152 have helped pay the rest.

The FSA teamed up with the city, local veterans organizations and hospitals to provide the home for veterans that will surround them with services to help them recover and become self-sufficient.

Center Township trustee Jean Lushin said the Jackson Street Commons project has taken on a special significance to him when he considers the many veterans who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and currently are struggling to find jobs and housing.

“I think the current profile of a homeless veteran might be different than it is in the minds of a lot of people,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great facility. Not every community has one of these. I think a lot of times these become known as a shelter for the homeless, but the reality is that this is a place for them to have a home.”

Along with 22 single apartments, the building will have five larger apartments for married couples, a large community kitchen and day room. Dennis said FSA has received 10 housing applications so far.

To be eligible for housing, applicants must be homeless veterans who have been honorably discharged and have a disabling mental health condition or physical disability. Outside of housing, Dennis noted the facility also will devote four offices to providing counseling for veterans.

Howard County Board of Commissioners President Paul Wyman applauded the efforts of the FSA in helping bring services to local veterans.

“We’re honored and thrilled to continue to support this great project for veterans in our community,” he said. “I think it looks wonderful from what I’ve seen so far.”

Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, martin.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @slagterm.