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Tue, Sept. 17

Vets lose transitional housing: Group seeks new accommodations

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Davis Honie, a Marine Corps veteran, is a resident at the U.S. Vets transitional housing at the Bob Stump VA Medical Center. The U.S. Vets group is  losing its transitional housing building and is trying to relocate the veterans to other facilities.

Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier<br>Davis Honie, a Marine Corps veteran, is a resident at the U.S. Vets transitional housing at the Bob Stump VA Medical Center. The U.S. Vets group is losing its transitional housing building and is trying to relocate the veterans to other facilities.

PRESCOTT - The U.S. Vets organization is asking for the community's help in relocating veterans from the organization's transitional housing, which is being moved from the historic Fort Whipple VA Medical Center.

"U.S. Vets had been leasing space from the VA at the expense of some programs that we are required to have, in particular a primary care team for homeless vets," VA spokeswoman Jean Schaefer said.

According to U.S. Vets Program Director Annette Olson and Operations Manager Skye Biasetti, the VA notified the organization in late November about relocating their transitional housing program from the VA's campus. Currently, 56 veterans are enrolled in the program and live in a dorm-like setting on the campus.

U.S. Vets is looking to lease a similar facility in the area to house the veterans, and has until June 1 to find accommodations for the group.

"Of course, we are trying to replicate the model that we currently have, but we are open to other options if people in the community have other buildings that are vacant that they think might be a fit for us," Olson said.

"We are looking at all opportunities," Biasetti added. "And we have the ability to pay a fair price and hopefully benefit all parties involved."

Depending on the building and/or the condition of the structure, the organization may also need help with renovation projects, landscaping and furnishings.

"Anybody who is handy out there who would like to volunteer with us, that would be lovely," Olson said. "We will also need help with moving services."

The organization is also looking to partner with local restaurants and caterers to provide daily meals for the veterans, Biasetti said.

"We currently have a food contract with the VA, but with us moving, that will not make sense anymore," Biasetti said. "Right now, the veterans eat in the domiciliary and we pay a per-meal price to the VA."

The organization's transitional housing program is not a treatment facility or a rehab center, Biasetti noted. Veterans enrolled in the program can stay in transitional housing for up to two years.

"We take individuals who have barriers to self-sufficiency, such as housing or employment, and try to retrain them and address their needs," Biasetti said.

With 11 offices across six states, U.S. Vets is the nation's largest nonprofit provider of services to homeless and at-risk veterans, Olson said. The organization offers case management, counseling, housing, job placement, and career development services to veterans. In 2003, the organization opened an office at 917 E. Gurley in Prescott. The organization is not affiliated with the VA and is supported solely by grants and donations.

For veteran Davis Honie, who moved into the organization's transitional housing after overcoming alcohol-ism, news of the move was unsettling.

The organization notified the veterans in the program of the impending relocation last week, Honie said.

"For me, it's scary and I'm worried. Where am I going to go?" Honie said. "They told us they will find us a place to live. But right now, I don't know where they are going to move us to."

Anyone interested in helping the organization with their relocation efforts is asked to call Annette Olson at 928-583-7678 or Skye Biasetti at 928-0583-7679.

Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone

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