CDHS and partners break ground on housing for homeless veterans

Housing groundbreakingThe Colorado Department of Human Services, along with several partners, recently broke ground in Aurora on construction of permanent supportive housing for homeless veterans. The Veterans Renaissance Apartments at Fitzsimons will be built on the Anschutz campus, next to the Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons.

An overflow crowd attended the Dec. 18 groundbreaking, which took place on the storied Fitzsimons Army Medical Center site. Fitzsimons originally opened during World War I and has now served the U.S. military for 100 years. CDHS opened the VCLC in 2002, and a new Veterans Affairs hospital opened there this year.

Speaking at the groundbreaking, John Parvensky, CEO and president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said, “You don’t have to go very far from here or any corner of the Denver area to see homelessness visible on our streets.”

According to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative’s most recent point-in-time survey, there are nearly 6,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the seven-county metro Denver area. Of those, nearly 10 percent — 566 — are veterans of the United States military.

“Clearly, having anyone living on the streets, not having a safe place to call home, is a tragedy. But for those who have served our country,” Parvensky said, “to allow them to remain on the streets is clearly unacceptable. 

The apartments, which are expected to be completed in early 2020, will serve 60 veterans. There will be 56 one-bedroom apartments and four with two bedrooms, as some veterans are expected to live with their families. Veterans who live in the apartments will get counseling as well as housing. The complex, which is being built on 3.5 acres, will include a gym, computer lab, a medical exam room and other amenities. Residents will be required to pay no more than 30 percent of their income to live there.
 
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless developed the project and will work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and others to serve residents of the apartments.
 
Featured speakers at the groundbreaking included state Sen. Larry Crowder, who served in the Army in Vietnam and sponsored the 2016 legislation to fund the project; and retired Air Force Major General Irv Halter, the outgoing executive director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The groundbreaking ceremony was conducted by retired Army Lt. Col. Aaron Termain, who runs CDHS’s Veterans Community Living Centers.