Hundreds of low-income and homeless veterans in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska would have a safe new place to live under a proposal being developed. Will Ackerman, spokesman for the Veterans Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, says plans are in the works to build an apartment building or a complex for such veterans in Omaha-Council Bluffs. Ackerman says there is a huge need for this so-called Veterans Village.
“There’s an estimated 800 to 900 homeless veterans in the Omaha metropolitan area,” Ackerman says. “The Veterans Affairs Secretary has set a goal of ending homelessness amongst veterans in five years so this program is one of those steps to achieve that goal.” Ackerman says this is a joint project.
“It’s a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and a private corporation called Volunteers of America,” Ackerman says. “Although it still has to work through some city planning, it really is an opportunity for us to reach out and help our homeless veterans.” He says they are talking to those who live and have businesses in the proposed area (of 39th and Pacific Streets) in Omaha and says planners have taken their suggestions seriously.
Ackerman says, “We’ve met with our community members and neighbors over the last several weeks and the Volunteers of America have actually adjusted the scope of the apartment program based upon feedback we have received from some of our neighbors.”
There are still a number of hoops to jump through before the Veterans’ Village becomes a reality. It first needs the approval and support of neighbors, then will be taken to the Omaha Zoning Committee. After that, it needs city council approval. A community meeting on the topic is planned for Thursday at 6 PM at the Field Club.