A Safe Haven Foundation Breaks Ground on New Veterans Housing Development in Melrose Park, Illinois
November 12, 2015 (Chicago, Illinois) A Safe Haven Foundation hosted a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new A Safe Haven Veteran Village in Melrose Park. A Safe Haven Veteran Village, is an Affordable Housing Development, which includes 35 new and uniquely designed supportive housing units for Veterans and Veteran Families, it offers an on-site Management Office and Tot Lot for children to play. The ceremony began at 10:00am and featured speeches from A Safe Haven’s leadership, elected officials, dignitaries, project partners, and Veterans.
“Illinois has the 10th largest Veteran population in the entire country…yet our Veteran’s unemployment rate is significantly above the States around us… those who served our country and put their lives on the line deserve better. That is why the work ASH does is so very important to each and every Illinoisan. This Veteran Village gives our veterans a place to live and a fresh start. That is the least we can do for the people who put their lives on the line so we could celebrate our freedom each and every day,” said Lieutenant Governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti.
“Today is about Veterans. It is about the men and women who have served; and we can’t say thank you enough…I always say, whenever you see a Veteran, say thank you for serving… we can’t do enough to honor the Veterans for all they’ve done for us through our service… I look forward to the great project that we’re going to see from A Safe Haven,” said Mayor Ronald Serpico.
“It is so fitting that we are here on this Veterans Day with this wonderful organization [A Safe Haven] to give something back to the brave men and women who gave so much to protect our families and our freedom here in America. I would like to thank the co-founders of A Safe Haven, Neli and Brian. Thank you for everything you have done, you provide such a service to our State,” said Comptroller Leslie Munger. The Comptroller also presented Neli Vazquez Rowland with a State of Illinois Proclamation in honor of A Safe Haven’s Veteran Village – Melrose Park.
“Michelle Obama issued a Mayors Challenge to end Veterans homelessness by the end of this year. Our community leaders have taken on that challenge. Since the beginning of this year in the City of Chicago, we have housed more than 1,200 homeless Veterans that now have a permanent home… and that’s with the valuable work of people like A Safe Haven. These 35 homes represent part of that continuum that ensures that as people come back from their service they have a place to call home. I want to congratulate A Safe Haven for their incredible work, and for their incredible partnership with HUD,” said Jim Cunningham, Deputy Director, Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“For the last four years I’ve been in and out of homelessness, living in abandoned cars and abandoned building. That was until four months ago when I went to Jesse Brown VA and heard about A Safe Haven. Since I’ve been a part of A Safe Haven, my whole life has changed. I was able to get every document that I lost, all of my ID, all of the awards I received while I was overseas. They are currently working on finding me housing and employment. That’s all thanks to A Safe Haven and the staff members they have…half the time I don’t even need to leave the building to get anything done. They bring everything on site for us… to all the vets out there that struggle and are in addiction, I want to say all you have to do is ask. Please go to your nearest VA and just ask for help. I don’t know where I’d be right now without A Safe Haven. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all,” said A Safe Haven resident and Veteran, Mark.
“It was an honor to stand alongside elected officials, government leaders, project partners, neighbors from the community and Veterans on such an important day—Veteran’s Day—as we broke ground on our new Veterans housing development. As an anchor agency within a field of organizations working to end homelessness, we feel it is our responsibility to inform leaders of our innovative efforts. Homeless veterans face a unique set of challenges, and deserve the same level of service and dedication from us as they offered and sacrificed for us during their time of service. Hearing directly from the veterans who have already overcome and others who are still overcoming homelessness here was incredibly inspiring, and reaffirms why it is so vital for government and local organizations to join together and build a better system that effectively reduce and end veteran homelessness,” said Neli Vazquez Rowland, President.