Creating affordable housing for veterans

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Most of us don’t have to consider where we will retreat to after a long days work. We know where we will rest our heads when it is time to go to sleep at night. Our individual images of home are often engraved in our minds. Home is a place we long for. Yet, many Washingtonians have to question where they will end up and what home means to them.

Affordable housing is a major problem throughout our state. The shortfall of availability spans across all demographics from renters, to potential homeowners, to those who are homeless.

One specific demographic heavily impacted, and often forgotten, are Washington state’s veterans. These men and women put their lives on the line to fight for freedom and their country. They’ve returned home from war to restart their lives as civilians. One of the biggest problems they face – an affordable place to hang up their boots.

Olympia’s Andrew Barkis is a state lawmaker with a passion for ensuring affordable housing is available to everyone. He has dedicated his professional life toward this ever-increasing problem. He is now taking his mission inside the Legislature to find solutions for those needing it most.

The Vision – Veterans Village

Two hardworking and dedicated individuals, Brian Tarrance (pictured center, a current reserve with the Army) and Rick Ware (pictured right, retired Air Force), had a vision and solution for the homeless veterans around Pierce County. They couldn’t stand to see the increasing number of homeless veterans around their county, and wanted to do something about it. Their vision is taking shape, but they found they needed help navigating through state government.

Brian and Rick needed help bridging the gap between private connections and state programs and assistance. Barkis was their bridge.

The concept of Veterans Village is to transition returning, and homeless, veterans back into civilian society. The intent is to provide these veterans throughout Pierce County with housing solutions, meals, behavioral health care, living condition stability, employment seeking assistance, and vocational training.

This model project combines private and public resources to bring an affordable solution to an increasing homeless problem for our veterans. The 24-home Veterans Village is just one thing that can be done to thank these incredible people for what they’ve done for their country, and to ensure they have a pathway to successfully reenter civilian society.

Because of a vision of two local men, and their outreach to one state representative on a mission to combat the affordable housing crisis, ground has broken in Spanaway. Washington state’s first Veterans Village is being constructed. This is a true example of what happens when private visions meet public connections. May this project be an example of what this state can do in the future for other demographics desperately needing affordable housing solutions.