A New Home for Veterans

By Jake Maguire, January 19, 2017 - 12:06pm

“It was like somebody took a ton of weight off my back,” said resident Clifford Rowe, who served in the 101st Airborne Division at the Bay of Pigs and later experienced homelessness for twelve years. “To find out I had a home coming, that was wonderful.”

This week, we officially cut the ribbon on the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence in Washington, D.C., giving 60 homeless veterans a permanent place to call home and creating an additional 64 units of affordable housing. The building has a fitness room, two outdoor terraces, and onsite supportive services provided by social workers from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

We were joined for the ribbon cutting by the Secretaries of HUD and VA, as well as the Mayor of Washington, D.C. What a way to start 2017!

Located at 1005 North Capitol Street, NE, 10 blocks from the Capitol building, the project will diversify and contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the booming NoMa neighborhood, while preserving affordability for residents. It is a collaboration between our team and McCormack Baron Salazar, a leading property development firm.

“It was like somebody took a ton of weight off my back,” said resident Clifford Rowe, who served in the 101st Airborne Division at the Bay of Pigs and later experienced homelessness for twelve years. “To find out I had a home coming, that was wonderful.”

In the 1970s, at the height of his career, Clifford played bass in Elvis Presley’s backup band. But in the ‘80s, “the bottom fell out,” he says. He was evicted, turned to drugs, lost most of his possessions, including gifts from Elvis, and lived in his car. Now he has come full circle, living less than a mile from the house where he grew up and learned to play music.

Clifford's apartment includes all new furniture and a few of his longtime belongings including the Les Paul guitar he used to back up The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

In November, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released the 2016 Homeless Point-in-Time Count, revealing that 350 veterans experienced homelessness in Washington, D.C. on a given night in January of last year. Under the leadership of Mayor Bowser and others, the District has driven that number down by more than a third since 2010 –including by more than 14 percent since the North Capitol Street building broke ground in 2014.

The Conway Residence represents a new, more strategic approach to aligning affordable housing development with the District’s broader efforts to end veteran homelessness. Veteran tenants were assessed using a research-backed survey, and apartments were offered only to those recommended for permanent supportive housing using that tool, in conjunction with the clinical judgment of VA staff. This reflects a new approach to aligning housing development with a data-driven system for identifying, prioritizing and housing the most vulnerable veterans.

“The John and Jill Ker Conway Residence is the perfect example of the great things that can happen when the public and private sectors unite towards one goal; we are certainly grateful to our federal and private partners who helped make this event a reality,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “I’m proud to announce to you today that since beginning the push to end Veteran homelessness in the District four years ago—nearly 1,800 Veterans have been housed, with 764 Veterans housed in 2015 and 463 placed into permanent housing in 2016.”

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many partners. With continued support, we'll continue making strides in eliminating veteran homelessness in D.C. and across the country.

By the way, the Washington Post was on the scene to cover the story.

Don't miss this feature article on the building, which shares the story of our work together, as well as the inspiring journeys of three veterans who now have permanent homes.

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