Vet Village, AK would connect homeless veterans to work and shelter

Anchorage (KTUU) — A nonprofit organization is working to get homeless veterans off of Alaska's streets by providing work and housing, and now, a new place to call home on a 100-acre lot on JBER.

Vet Village is a proposed cooperative community, part of an ongoing effort by the Alaska Veterans Foundation since 2012.

According to Alaska Veterans Foundation Chairman Ric Davidge, the mission of Vet Village — which would be located at the intersection of Hiland Road and Eagle River Loop — is to create a sense of community.

The village wouldn't come for free to veterans. Davidge says residents would work a minimum of 20 hours a week to pay for 30 percent of living expenses.

"The consistent position of all clinical psychologists working with veterans said the best solution to homelessness is work," Davidge said.

Approval is needed from the Department of Defense to build the community, which sits on military land. A previous attempt to build on 25 acres of JBER land was rejected in 2012 because the land was reserved for training.

But Davidge says this time, Vet Village has the support of the executive branch.

“With the friends we have in D.C., in the White House and the Pentagon, I think we'll get mutual consideration," Davidge said.

One Eagle River resident told Channel 2 that he's hesitant to accept the project without further discussion, but he does agree that homeless veterans need a place to call home.

Davidge challenges those opposed to Vet Village to come up with a better idea.

Among the ranks of Vet Village supporters are Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant, and Beans Cafe Executive Director Lisa Sauder.

"They've given their lives to serve this country, and now we have a duty to serve them as well,” Constant said. “There is no moral reason they should be sleeping in the woods. We should be providing them their basic needs."

"I think that by coming together in partnership, we can make sure that it really is possibly a welcomed addition to communities, and really a potential great resource for people who need help," Sauder said.

Davidge said his next step is to gather more legislative support for what he calls a non-partisan project.

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