Veterans housing project with 60 low-income units opens in Windsor
Local officials, veterans advocates and nonprofit developers on Monday celebrated the opening of a 60-unit veterans housing project in Windsor.
The Windsor Veterans Village at 9500 Oak Park St., just west of the Town Green, offers one- and two-bedroom townhome apartments to local homeless, disabled and low-income veterans. The complex, which also provides counseling and supportive services, began accepting residents this summer and is now entirely occupied.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” said Kenneth Gray, a 78-year-old village resident. “This is a lot better than being on the streets.”
Gray served in the Navy on the USS Lake Champlain in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, in the early 1960s. Before moving to the Veterans Village earlier this year, he was living out of motels and had been homeless for a period.
He finally has a sense of belonging at his new home.
“There’s a camaraderie that you do not get in civilian life, because they all know what it is to serve,” Gray said.
Sonoma County’s annual homeless census counted 139 homeless veterans in the region in 2020. About two-thirds of those veterans were living in vehicles on the street, according to the census. There were about 2,700 homeless residents in total.
Early planning for the project started in 2016. It was at first delayed by increasing development costs, as well as a succession of wildfires and floods in Sonoma County.
By 2019, the Santa Rosa-based Veterans Housing Development Corporation had raised enough public funding to start building the roughly $42 million project. Then the pandemic hit.
“We had it all cobbled together and that’s when the biblical wrath started,” said Brad Long, executive director of the Veterans Housing Development Corporation. “It was a long drawn-out process.”
Windsor Councilwoman Deb Fudge said she has worked closely with the nonprofit developer to see the project to completion. Still, there’s about an $850,000 funding gap. So Fudge put in a call to the Sonoma County Community Development Commission to make up the difference and initial agreement was struck.
A final decision on the funding grant will come before the Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks, Fudge said.
“To be able to have this opening with the project so close to being fully funded when it had so many problems and some many overages beyond anybody’s control is really great,” Fudge said.
Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, who was also at the event, indicated he’ll vote to allocate the money. “Hell yes!” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Ethan Varian at email@example.com or 707-521-5412. On Twitter @ethanvarian.
Housing and homelessness, The Press Democrat
I've lived in California for most of my life, and it's hard for me to remember when the state hasn't been in a housing crisis. Here in Sonoma County, sharply rising housing costs and increasing homelessness are reshaping what was long considered the Bay Area’s “affordable” region. As The Press Democrat’s housing and homelessness reporter, I aim to cover how officials, advocates, developers and residents are reacting to and experiencing the ongoing crisis.