The Home Depot Foundation recently teamed up with a local veterans organization as part of its nationwide volunteer effort to improve the homes and lives of veterans.
Starting March 8, with the help of a 30-man crew from The Home Depot, Central Valley Veterans went to work on renovating its “Hospitality House,” a no-cost emergency housing facility for families of patients at the Fresno Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. The house is also used for emergency housing for homeless veterans and veteran families transitioning to permanent housing.
“We applied for a grant through Home Depot, so it wasn’t just the work, it was about $7,000,” said Deborah Riordan, Board President of Central Valley Veterans. “First, they bought the stove, a washer and dryer. Then, they bought all the supplies to do the painting, and brought their crew out to do it.”
CVV bought the home about two-and-a-half years ago thanks to a generous community member who donated the funds to purchase the property outright. But maintaining the home, Riordan said, isn’t easy.
“We rely on community volunteers. We try to develop all these community partnerships to help us improve the quality of the house but also to bring in funding so we can help veterans out,” said Riordan. “It costs about $20,000-25,000 a year to maintain the home, which we use for two things. The first and original reason we purchased the home was to have kind of a Ronald McDonald House but for families with loved ones at our local VA hospital. We’ve also been using it for emergency housing for folks, especially families, on the street that don’t have access to permanent housing right away. It’s not for long term housing – less than 30 days – but we can provide a bridge until they can get a HUD-VASH voucher and find appropriate housing.”
Located at 2035 E. Princeton Ave. in Fresno, the home is just half a mile away from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center.
After this phase of renovations are complete, the house will have new interior paint and mouldings in addition to the new kitchen and laundry appliances to increase energy efficiency.
“There’s always things to be fixed up and cleaned,” said Bill Gonzalez, CVV board member. “We don’t want to renovate all the time because then we can’t have anybody staying in here. So, we’ll take a break for a while and make sure we have it available in case people need to stay here.”
The house is maintained by Central Valley Veterans members and volunteers, including Navy veteran Havila “Stretch” Johnson who lives on site. As the property manager, Johnson’s role is to manage the house, including maintaining both the inside and outside of the home, assisting with check-in and check-out and making sure the house rules are met by the veterans and their families.
To date, the home has housed over 20 families impacted by homelessness or waiting for permanent housing.