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2013-01-30 Veterans Commons Grand Opening Print

Swords to Plowshares and Chinatown Community Development Center

Host Ribbon-Cutting and Grand Opening Celebration of Veterans Commons



Veteran Commons (Picture by Frank Jang)

(San Francisco, CA) -- On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, Chinatown CDC and Swords to Plowshares host the grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony of San Francisco’s newest housing for homeless veterans in 12 years. The grand opening event takes place from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm at 150 Otis Street in San Francisco.


Chinatown CDC Executive Director Rev. Norman Fong, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and Swords to Plowshares Executive Director Michael Blecker cutting the ribbon for Veterans Commons (Picture by Frank Jang)


Spearheaded by community based non-profit organizations, Swords to Plowshares - a veteran service agency - and Chinatown CDC - an established developer, the housing project now provides permanent housing and on-site supportive services to 75 formerly homeless veterans with disabilities.


“We look forward to celebrating the opening of Veterans Commons with the community and local leaders who have helped make this project possible,” said Michael Blecker, Swords to Plowshares’ Executive Director. “This is a critical step for the City and community to reduce homelessness and poverty among veterans.”


The residents of Veterans Commons are single homeless veterans who are disabled by mental illness, chronic substance abuse, HIV, post traumatic stress disorder, other severe mental health disorders, and/or physical disabilities. On-site supportive services provided by Swords to Plowshares and the Department of Veterans Affairs are tailored to meet the specialized needs of the residents.


“We are so thrilled to have Swords to Plowshares as a partner in building this milestone home for veterans," said Chinatown CDC Executive Director Rev. Norman Fong. “The completion of Veterans Commons is one of the most happy and joyful occasions and a new beginning for veterans.”


The property for Veterans Commons, a landmark building located at 150 Otis Street, was made available through the City’s Surplus Property Program. Funders for Veterans Commons include: San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, San Francisco Housing Authority, San Francisco Human Services Agency, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Housing Finance Agency, The Home Depot Foundation, Corporation for Supportive Housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs via the HUD VASH program, and Wells Fargo Bank as the construction lender and investor.


In addition to Swords to Plowshares’ existing supportive housing programs, which provide homes to hundreds of veterans each year, Veterans Commons will contribute to San Francisco’s efforts to significantly reduce veteran homelessness.


“After nearly 40 years working with homeless and at-risk veterans in San Francisco, I know what it takes to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Blecker. “For Vietnam-era veterans who have suffered for decades, permanent supportive housing is the solution that will save their lives.”


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