Updated: 06/13/2014 10:28 AM
Created: 06/10/2014 8:16 PM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough
When service men and women return from the rigors of war, they face a different set of problems, one of those: finding a place to live.
A new program started in Minneapolis aims to address that challenge and giving post 9/11 vets access to affordable homes. It's the first of its kind in the state.
Anthony White served overseas in the Army for nine years and said that because he's a veteran, he's uniquely capable of understanding the war weary, especially their sacrifice.
"The only vet that really understands another vet is a vet," White said.
That's why White is working on one particular home in North Minneapolis. White said he wants to help other active military or vets come back to a home, their own home.
"If they had some place where they could settle their minds and acclimate themselves to society then a home would be great," White said. "Without a home they tend to find themselves discouraged."
That's precisely why the new program is called, "Minneapolis Houses for Heroes."
State records show since 2007, at least 12,000 vets have returned to Minnesota from Afghanistan or Iraq, and the need for housing is up, as they finish school, get jobs and start families.
The Minneapolis only program, provides up to $20,000 in the form of a zero-interest loan for closing cost and down payment. The loan is forgiven at the end of five years as long as the veteran remains living in the home.
The project manager said enough money has been set aside to serve up to 20 households.
"There's nothing like bringing a veteran and his family into one of our neighborhoods that can strengthen our city more," Cherie Showquist with the City of Minneapolis said.
Some of the Minneapolis homes are rehabbed, others are new. They're designed with vets in mind. For instance, a couple of homes along Shingle Creek Parkway have one-level living to make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to get around. Contractors are doing the final touches.
It's work that is meaningful to White, "because if it helps a veteran then we all have a brotherhood in there."
The program is paid for by Reserve Aid, which is a national service-members organization. Priority is given to reservists or national guard members who returned from deployment, a combat zone or homeland security position.