Nonprofit Voice | Building new lives for our veterans

In his speech at Atlanta’s Disabled Veterans Convention on August 1, President Obama declared, “We've helped bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets, but we're not slowing down," because “every single veteran matters.” HomeAid Atlanta Executive Director Mandy Crater takes those words to heart. “These heroes are responsible for the freedom we enjoy as Americans, and we owe them a huge debt,” she says. “HomeAid Atlanta is so proud to serve those who served our country, with 36 new beds and two new projects designated exclusively for Atlanta veterans experiencing homelessness.”

HomeAid Atlanta’s mission is to build new lives for Atlanta’s homeless families and individuals through housing and community outreach. Our aim is to bring down the construction costs of new or renovated housing for service providers, most recently including Phoenix Pass in Conyers and Rainbow Village in Duluth, by securing in-kind donations from building industry professionals and their trade partners. The key to HomeAid Atlanta's formula for success is leveraging donated building materials and labor to multiply the impact of every cash donation received.

Since its inception in 2001, HomeAid Atlanta has completed 23 builds for homeless service providers including Atlanta Mission, Genesis Shelter (now Our House), The Drake House, and many others, saving them approximately $3 million. In addition, we’ve performed 47 individual HomeAid Care Days, one-day hands-on engagements assisting local agencies with free repairs and upgrades, saving them more than $375,000 altogether.

On Memorial Day 2016, our national parent organization HomeAid America launched the Homes for Our Veterans initiative to address the reality that many within America’s homeless population are veterans coming home from overseas. Returning veterans face unique issues transitioning from a traumatic situation, often being thrust back into civilian life without the support systems and skills necessary to do so quickly and successfully.

HomeAid Atlanta is proud to be a part of the Homes for Our Veterans initiative. Late last year, we broke ground on a new project especially for homeless veterans, in partnership with Atlanta nonprofit Jesus Set the Captive Free (JSCF). When completed later in the year, a totally renovated southwest Atlanta home will house six formerly incarcerated veterans working to rebuild their lives. HomeAid volunteer builder captain Brian Canady of BBC Builders is heading up construction efforts with 100 percent donated time, and The Home Depot Foundation provided us with $10,000 in The Home Depot gift cards to support the project with new supplies and materials. 

Thanks to these generous donors, as well as many others within Atlanta’s home building industry, HomeAid will provide JSCF with a projected construction savings of approximately $34,000 on this project, which is valued at $56,447.76. The money saved will be spent directly on veterans.

Another in-the-works project for veterans is a facility renovation for HOPE Atlanta, which provides a comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness and promoting lifelong stability. HomeAid’s renovations will transform a 1930s nurses’ barracks at Fort McPherson into 17 permanent supportive units capable of housing up to 30 homeless veterans as they transition into more stable housing.

Though these are our first veteran-specific projects, nearly all facilities built by HomeAid Atlanta have housed veterans. Georgia, and Atlanta in particular, boast one of the largest populations of veterans nationwide. Consequently, this renewed emphasis on housing America’s heroes is extremely important to HomeAid Atlanta. “We are excited to be a part of this nationwide effort to serve our veterans,” says Crater. “We look forward to the day when every veteran has a home. Until then, we will continue to help build new lives for our heroes.”

Cecily Stevens is Marketing Coordinator at HomeAid Atlanta.

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