Housing Complex

Homeless Veteran Resource Center Coming to Rhode Island Avenue NE

Revitalization? Maybe. As buzz gets louder along Rhode Island Avenue NE, the neglected commercial corridor has picked up some new enterprises: A marijuana supply store, a chocolate emporium, and now a one-stop-shop for homeless veterans.

Actually, the brick building at 1500 Franklin Street NE has been used as a career services one-stop for the Department of Employment Services for a while now. But the Veterans Administration has recently signed a 20-year lease, and is in the middle of renovating it into a comprehensive resource center open 24/7 for homeless vets, including a medical primary care clinic, cafeteria, psychological counseling, employment assistance, and space for non-profit service providers—everything but housing, for which veterans receive special vouchers. It's one of 15 contracts for similar centers awarded nationwide, and will be the first of its kind in the Washington area.

"I think we are the most comprehensive," says the facility's medical director, Fuad Issa. "We're consolidating all the services that a homeless vet might need in one place."

It's also one example of how homeless veterans, who compose 14 percent of all homeless adults, tend to have a lot more resources available to them than folks who haven't served in the military. Advocates tell me that D.C.'s last strategic plan to combat homelessness actually included such a resource center, and that a request for proposals even went out, but was pulled when the city ran into a funding crunch. It's great to see the consolidation of services and a focus on homelessness prevention—but it would be nice if those resources were available to all.

The center is expected to open sometime in mid-April.

  • Nolan

    Been wanting to get the story on that building for months now. Thanks for reporting on this, Lydia!

  • August

    Will there be REAL HOUSING available, with keys to locking doors & privacy, for the homeless veterans, or will it be prison-like 12-Step religious cult shelters?

  • MovingSoon

    Hmm, interesting. My husband and I are just about to move into a house practically across the street in mid-April...how do you all think this will affect our living situation/the people milling around the house? Between the Foster Care/Family counseling center that used to be Catholic Charities and Veteran Care Center bringing people into the area, does anyone in the area have thoughts on if this is going to be a safe place for our kids to grow up?

  • August

    Most homeless veterans DO NOT QUALIFY for the HUD-VASH housing vouchers; they spend the rest of their lives on the streets cycling back and forth from one VA program to another and back to the streets.