Homeless veterans will get a transitional housing facility in southwest Santa Rosa under plans for a $2 million project aimed at serving soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts as well as the Vietnam War.

"This has been a long time coming for us," said Peter Cameron, director of the Vietnam Veterans of California, which will own and operate the facility at 2149 West Hearn Ave.

The group, which started in the early 1970s in Sonoma County as the Flower of the Dragon, became a model for national agencies assisting Vietnam veterans and already operates an eight-bed facility in Petaluma. The project in southwest Santa Rosa involves remodeling the former residential care center built in the 1950s, with installation of a new roof, floors and windows.

Last week, Sonoma County supervisors allocated $1.1 million in state housing funds for acquisition of the property and building renovation. Later this month, the city of Santa Rosa's Housing Authority will get a request for another grant that will cover most of the rest of the project's cost.

The project, called the West Hearn Avenue Transitional Housing for Homeless Veterans, will be developed by the Community Development Corp., which will turn the property over to the Vietnam veterans group.

Mark Krug, the county's community development manager, said the 3,600-square-foot facility could be ready for occupancy in April.

Paula Cook, the corporation's executive director, said the project meets the nonprofit agency's goal of developing low-cost housing for low-income residents.

She said it is critical "to provide more housing for Vietnam veterans as well as those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Veterans could live there up to two years while receiving social services to make a transition to independent living arrangements.

The 2.5-acre property near Stony Point Road is in the unincorporated county but is likely to move into Santa Rosa city limits as annexations slowly envelop the southwest area. Officials said the site is large enough to accommodate expansion.

Ever since they received $1 million in state housing funds in 2002, Sonoma County supervisors and the county Community Development Commission have struggled to find affordable housing programs that meet state guidelines for the grants.

"It is nice to get the money out the door to do what we set out to do," said Supervisor Tim Smith, who is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. "There is potential for apartments and housing for people in need."

You can reach Staff Writer Bleys W. Rose at 521-5431 or bleys.rose@pressdemocrat.com.