San Joaquin County builds permanent housing complex for homeless vets in French camp
STOCKTON, Calif .– Under a freeway overpass near downtown Stockton, 68-year-old Army veteran Donnel Gaines calls an old camper home.
“It’s the sink. It’s the oven. It’s the full-size refrigerator,” said Gaines, taking a tour inside his motorhome.
He’s a five-year veteran, who says he served two years in combat in Vietnam and has been on the streets for four years.
âI don’t know what roaming is,â Gaines says.
He says he has a place, but says he would like a real house.
âThe problem with that is the income, isn’t it? How much is a one-bedroom apartment right now? You can’t get one for $ 800,â Gaines said.
In San Joaquin County in 2017, there were 112 veterans identified as homeless.
In 2019, the number rose to 153, an increase of 37%. But, there is hope for homeless veterans.
A 48 unit permanent housing complex called Victory Gardens is being built in the French camp especially for homeless military veterans.
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âThese are taken care of by VA case managers, so the Housing Authority and HUD provide rental assistance. The state of California and federal tax credits are all bricks and sticks, âsays Peter Ragsdale, executive director of the San County Housing Authority. Joaquin.
Ragsdale thinks it’s a plan to help solve veteran homelessness, but says it’s not enough.
“I am very happy that this is the first dedicated veterans veterans project in San Joaquin County with permanent supportive housing, but we are late for the holiday. We need to do more,” he said. he declared.
The land for Victory Gardens was donated by San Joaquin County. It should be completed in the fall of next year.
For veterans like Donnel Gaines, who says he cries and has nightmares about what he witnessed during the war, he agrees that more needs to be done.
âA lot of people have died and lost their lives for me to come back here and do what I’m doing,â Gaines said.
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