Delaware's Center for Homeless Veterans is doubling its capacity and taking its services to the next level with a new property in Wilmington.
They're acquiring the city's long-vacant Layton Home for the Aging and turning it into permanent apartments for veterans and their families. It comes after the first year of the state's push to house all homeless vets.
David Mosley is the center's director, himself a U.S. Air Force vet who was once homeless for two weeks while unemployed in Philadelphia. He says giving veterans a permanent address is vitally important.
"The biggest thing that hits a homeless veteran is the one that applies for VA benefits, and the VA can't contact them to say they need something, or that their benefits have come through," Mosley says. "You're just lost."
His group is the first in Delaware to get federal vouchers for homeless veteran housing. They'll build 51 studio, one- and two-bed apartments total, with extra funding help from the state and the city of Wilmington. The project is set to cost about $3.5 million overall.
Tenants will pay 30 percent of their income as rent, with long-term lease options.
"They'll have their own housing, plus have the camaraderie of the other veterans around them," Mosley says. "You're actually giving them more than a hand up -- you're giving them the security of knowing they're in their own place, and all they can go from there is up."
The building is set to re-open as the Pearl, named for David's mother, next spring. It'll take rental applicants from homeless veterans in transitional shelters and other programs run by both the Center for Homeless Vets and the VA. Mosley says they aren't worried about filling every unit.