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Thu, Sept. 19

U.S. Vets moves into new transitional housing facility

Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier<br>
U.S. Vets transitional housing residents will live at a facility on Gurley for at least a year until a bigger, permanent site is located. The efficiency units range from single- to multi-person.

Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier<br> U.S. Vets transitional housing residents will live at a facility on Gurley for at least a year until a bigger, permanent site is located. The efficiency units range from single- to multi-person.

PRESCOTT, Arizona - Veteran Robert Schaffer, who enrolled in the U.S. Vets program in May of 2013, helped move boxes Friday as staff and residents unpacked and settled into their new facility at 1113 E. Gurley Street.

The group officially moved from their prior location on the campus of the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System on Wednesday.

"I like this move. I think it's an excellent facility for everybody here," Schaffer said. "We're out in the community rather than in the post.

It gives everyone a chance to get out in the community during the day if they can. The rooms are adequate for the needs. Some are multi-man rooms, some are not. It works out very well."

Veterans who enroll in the program, Schaffer said, are often involved in programs at the Prescott VA facility before moving into the transitional two-year housing facility designed for homeless vets.

"I think it's an excellent program. It does a lot of great things for the veterans here that wouldn't get it anywhere else otherwise," Schaffer said. "You can be here for two years, but many are only here for a short period of time while they're job-hunting and getting things in order, and then many of them just move on into regular employment."

Besides offering transitional housing for veterans, the program has also helped veterans with job training and assistance programs, Schaffer said.

"I've applied for three positions now and am awaiting the review process," he said.

Besides job-hunting, he's also volunteering 20 hours a week at a horse ranch in Williamson Valley and at the local humane society.

Prescott's U.S. Vets program director Annette Olson said the move on Wednesday went as smoothly as possible.

"We had everything pre-packed at the old site and staged and ready to go. This site was ready to go and the movers got 56 people moved in one day, all their beds, all their boxes and all the people. Everyone is all in and settled now."

The national Soldier's Wish Foundation, she said, financed the moving expenses.

The new facility has a one-year lease with an option for month-to-month following the end of that year. The organization, Olson said, plans to focus their capital campaign and fundraisers on finding a larger campus

Food is being served thanks to the Coalition for Compassion and Justice's Open Door program.

"They started Wednesday night and have been doing breakfast, lunch and dinner every day," Olson said.

Another added bonus at the site is a brand-new gazebo for use by residents.

"Home Depot built the gazebo and a pad for a swanky outdoor area for everybody," Olson said.

New programs are expected to begin at the Gurley Street location the week of Aug. 28. Volunteers are still being sought to help out with various recreational activities.

A culinary arts vocational rehabilitation program is also underway at the new housing facility, with a commercial kitchen, thanks to grants Olson obtained from the Safeway Foundation and from Arizona Public Service.

"We're going to work on getting the people who want new employment training here," Olson said.

An open house is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 12, at 3 p.m. The open house, held in collaboration with the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, is open to the public.

Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier

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