Non-profit providing refuge for those who served

Source: | Published: 5/22 5:30 pm

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – A local non-profit is getting $3.5 million from New York State to build affordable housing for homeless veterans. The money will be used to breathe life into a Syracuse building that has been vacant for more than a decade.

One local veteran claims the program will ultimately save lives.

“I worked on the flight line…I scheduled the C1-31 cargo plane,” said 1968 Air Force veteran, Leon Dash.

After serving in the military, Dash suffered from narcotics addiction. He’s been clean for seven years now, thanks in part to the non-profit “Housing Visions” and the safe, affordable housing that was provided to him.

“It gave me a sense of purpose. I have gained a lot of insight on positive relationships and giving back to the community,” Dash said.

He moved into an apartment made available by Housing Visions.

Development Director Ben Lockwood says there are many more veterans who also need affordable housing.

Just in Onondaga County, you’re looking at over 4,000 vets who are living below the poverty level,” Lockwood said.

The project fits in with the program’s goal of revitalizing communities and providing affordable housing. The building has been vacant for 10 years and it will soon provide housing for more than 50 veterans.

The building will also staff two veterans affairs case workers for counseling and support.

“One of the problems that the vets have right now…their veterans are so far spread out amongst the community that it takes a lot of time and resources to pick them all up to get them to where they need to go,” said Lockwood. “So, by not completely centralizing, but providing a central point will be easier and more efficient to deliver the services.”

Leon Dash says the new housing is empowering, and it will help lift his peers out of poverty.

“We served our country, and it’s good that the government and Housing Visions are showing that they care about us and they’re giving us safe, clean, and affordable housing…that’s a blessing,” Dash said.

Housing Visions hopes to break ground on the new housing units this summer.