SPRINGFIELD – Property manager Anthony Jones understands what veterans at the new Fifth Street Renaissance Veterans Shelter have been through because he’s lived it, too.
An Army veteran, 59-year-old Jones struggled with alcohol abuse and faced homelessness until finding stability more than six years ago. Currently, a resident of another Fifth Street Renaissance supportive housing development in the Springfield area – the security guard has completed transitional housing job training to become the on-site property manager at the new development celebrating its grand opening today.
“I’ll be able to be a positive role model to other veterans because I can understand their plight,” Jones said. “They can turn their life around. You have to work at it, but we’re here to help.”
On behalf of Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) provided $1.4 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding to build the 14-unit housing development serving veterans at risk of homelessness. More than 20 good paying construction jobs were created.
“Fifth Street Renaissance Veterans Shelter will provide veterans with access to the safe and decent housing, and support they deserve after their service,” IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said. “Supportive housing in Springfield and across the state helps veterans and other Illinois residents living with disabilities acquire the skills necessary to live independently and achieve stability in the community.”
Fifth Street Renaissance Veterans Shelter, 209 W. Scarritt St., Springfield, features 14 units and access to supportive services, such as job skills training. A federal grant program through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also helped finance the development.
“With the support of Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), we are able to provide Springfield-area veterans facing homelessness with a supportive place to live and learn new skills,” said Penny Harris, executive director of not-for-profit Fifth Street Renaissance.
Fifth Street Renaissance Veterans Shelter furthers Governor Quinn’s dedication to creating more supportive housing opportunities across the state. Supportive housing helps people with disabilities in communities by providing the services they need to live independently. IHDA this week announced more than one-third of the nearly 700 new affordable housing units approved for federal tax credit financing would provide supportive housing for veterans and people with disabilities.
An estimated 14,055 people experience homelessness each night in Illinois, and 15 percent of those are veterans, according to the January 2011 National Alliance to End Homelessness State of Homelessness report. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates more than 67,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. In addition to the myriad factors influencing homelessness – shortage in affordable housing, reduction in livable income and limited access to health care – a significant number of veterans live with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. These challenges are often compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
This is the second development that IHDA has partnered with Fifth Street Renaissance. Cook Street Renaissance in Springfield opened in 2009 to provide 19 units of safe and decent housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and persons with disabilities.