After years of hoping, a local nonprofit group’s plans to build a new shelter for housing veterans moved another step closer to reality on Wednesday.
The Historic and Design Review Commission gave conceptual approval to the American GI Forum-National Veterans Outreach Program for a dormitory-style residential center at 801 N. Main Ave.
Plans call for the brick and stucco four-story residential structure to be built next door to the organization’s offices at 206 San Pedro Ave. near Interstate 35 and to be completed within two years. The estimated cost of construction is $7 million.
A site plan submitted to the commission shows solar panels on the roof of the 25,000-square-foot building, with a driveway, monument and flag poles in the southeast corner of the lot.
The group has been eyeing the former surface parking lot for some time, said Robert Flores, American GI Forum’s director of planning and development.
In April, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said it was aiming to “rehouse” 38,000 veterans in 2022. As part of that effort, a $5.4 million grant from the agency’s $64 million Grant and Per Diem awards program to improve safety for veterans across the nation, allowed the Veterans Outreach Program to purchase the .39-acre property in April.
San Antonio’s 2022 Point-in-Time Count, conducted on March 1, identified 33 unhoused veterans, the lowest reported count of unsheltered veterans in Bexar County since the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless began closely monitoring the veteran population in 2016.
Plans for the residential center came together quickly as the organization anticipated the funding, Flores said.
“We were being optimistic” about receiving the grant, he said of starting plans ahead of receiving the funds. The Outreach Program’s board members and President and CEO Sergio Dickerson were also cognizant that grant stipulations required project goals to be achieved in 24 months.
This isn’t the local organization’s first project for housing veterans.
A local branch of the National Veterans Outreach Program, it built and operates a residential center for homeless veterans at 519 N. Medina St., near the Haven for Hope campus.
Open since 2005, the center has 80 beds for transitional housing and 60 single-room apartments that serve as permanent supportive housing for veterans.
The new center will have 80 single-occupancy units on the first three levels. The uppermost floor will go unfinished for now until the nonprofit raises additional funds to build out office space, Flores said.