District Finds Room for Homeless Veterans at Walter Reed

Help USA, a national group founded almost 30 years ago by current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, plans to renovate a series of single-occupant apartments at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, under a deal being negotiated by the Army and the District of Columbia.

The project, slated to include 75 efficiency apartments, would be the only component of the city’s redevelopment plan for 66.5 acres at the medical campus aimed at veterans, reported the New York Times.

“It’s an iconic setting,” Thomas Hameline, president and CEO of the nonprofit which has launched veterans programs in four states, said of the historic hospital in northwest Washington.

Help USA will hire on-site nurses to help the residents address substance abuse, physical disabilities and mental health issues, Hameline said. The group also will provide transportation to medical appointments, host Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and provide a case management worker to help residents deal with the VA.

The new apartments will be “permanent supportive housing,” which allows tenants to stay as long as they like. They will pay a percentage of their income for monthly rent, supplemented by public and private funding.

Before the project can get under way, the city and the Army need to reach an agreement over the terms for handing over the property. “The U.S. Army wants the federal government and federal taxpayers to be fairly compensated for this valuable property,” Army spokesman Dave Foster told the Times.

Redeveloping Walter Reed is a high priority for the District’s new mayor, Muriel Bowser. “It’s been at the top of my list for the last eight years,” Bowser said.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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