Dane County’s veteran’s housing project, Valor on Washington, moved closer to breaking ground after the land lease to Gorman & Company was approved. 

The Valor on Washington project will be the largest housing and service development for veterans and their families in the nation. The building will feature 59 market-rate and affordable housing units, all with a preference for veterans, as well as programming and services veterans. 

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the progress made on the project.

“We are happy to have the Valor on Washington development take this step forward so we can provide more affordable housing and support to veterans and their families,” Parisi said in a news release. “Veterans and their families have given so much to our country, and we cannot wait to see this project reach completion so more veterans can access the environment and services they need.”

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Dryhootch, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans reconnect within their community, will provide services in the programming space on the first floor of the building. The service area will have a coffee shop open to the public, work out facilities, places for writing and art, a mechanic shop, training spaces, a video game area, support groups and supportive services. 

Lutheran Social Services will also help to provide supportive services as well, like mental health counseling. Lutheran Social Services is a local no-profit that is partnering with Dryhootch and Gorman & Company for this project. 

Communications and Homeless Services Manager Casey Becker spoke about what made this project unique.

“[The] thing that is really unique about it is the partnership that will exist between Gorman, the developer, Dryhootch, which is a local nonprofit … and Lutheran Social Services … who will be able to provide some of the other services tenants may need,” Becker said. “Having that combination of non-profits and developers is not necessarily new, but having it focus on veterans specifically is unique.” 

The development will hold a benefit for student veterans as well. The building will be located a short distance away from campus and could serve as a housing option.

Student veterans could take part in the services available at the location and connect with other veterans who have shared experiences with them. 

“If there are student veterans who are looking for that sense of community with others who have had … similar experiences to ones they have had, [then] this would be a welcoming environment for folks who are looking for that,” Becker said. 

The University of Wisconsin also provides resources for student veterans through the Veteran Services and Military Assistance Center. In addition to helping student veterans process educational benefits, it also offers programs such as Peer Advisors for Veteran Education which pairs incoming student veterans with current student veterans on campus to help them transition onto campus. 

Aaron Goodwin, a UW senior and student worker at VSMAC, spoke about the services available.

“We really try to provide help where we can,” he said.

According to the news release, the Valor on Washington building will have 59 units total — nine of the units will be priced at market-rate, while the other 50 will be affordable housing units. The building will have 29 two-bedroom units, 28 three-bedroom units, and two units with four bedrooms.

“Increasing the number of affordable three bedroom units in our community is a priority the County has identified … [it makes] the project stand out,” Becker said in an email. 

The county provides other veteran housing programs as well. The County Human Services Department also contracts with Lutheran Social Services to provide rapid rehousing for veterans — this rehousing program helps to end veteran homelessness by finding apartments and helping with rental assistance for those who need it. 

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The rehousing program started in May this year and targets at veterans who are experiencing homelessness due to ineligibility for other housing programs. 

“[It’s] a really exciting resource that we are excited to provide veterans in our community,” Becker said. 

The demolition of the location is expected to begin this fall and construction should begin in early 2020.