Set before a stage of red, white and blue, El Monte’s Veterans Village, the San Gabriel Valley’s first affordable-housing community specifically for homeless veterans, opened to much fanfare on Wednesday, March 12 as the City of El Monte and its development partners hosted a grand-opening ceremony for this innovative project.
“The El Monte Veterans Village symbolizes the City’s steadfast commitment to our service men and women in the San Gabriel Valley,” said El Monte Councilman Juventino “J” Gomez, a disabled American Veteran who served in the United States Army from August 1965 to November 1967. “Our partnership with Mercy Housing and New Directions for Veterans sets a precedent that we hope other cities follow by building their own housing developments for homeless Veterans. I am so proud that our community has made it a priority to ensure our Veterans have a place to call home when they return from duty. ”
Featuring a flyover by the Condor Squadron, a group of vintage WWII A-6 airplanes, and a special performance by the Marine Corps Band, the celebration was designed to honor all veterans and showcase El Monte’s advocacy for veterans’ issues.
“Our nation’s Veterans are the cornerstone of our community and we wanted to do everything we could do to support them as they made the transition back home,” said El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero. “This includes providing a welcoming apartment here in El Monte so they don’t have to live on the street.”
The City, in partnership with Mercy Housing and New Directions for Veterans, made it a priority to build the Veterans Village, a $12 million, 40-unit comprehensive affordable housing development for veterans – the first of its kind in the San Gabriel Valley.
“El Monte Veterans Village is an excellent example of what every community needs to do to make sure they provide homes for our military veterans,” said Doug Shoemaker, President of Mercy Housing California. “Mercy Housing is proud to be a partner in this project with the City of El Monte and New Directions for Veterans who will provide comprehensive services for the new residents. Together we are addressing the region’s affordable housing shortage for homeless veterans.”
The three-story facility, built in a style evocative of National Park lodges and located at Stewart Street and Ramona Boulevard, will house 40 studio apartments, each with a bathroom and kitchen, and various community gathering spaces. This unique project will also feature private balconies, an outdoor stone fireplace, and other leading sustainable features, including solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, a neighborhood garden and fruit trees interlaced throughout the property.
President and CEO of New Directions for Veterans Gregory C. Scott says that getting more affordable housing with supportive services built is very high on his agenda. “New Directions for Veterans has wonderful partners in the City of El Monte and Mercy Housing, and the benefit to veterans living here today makes all of our hard work worthwhile,” he noted. “Our tagline at NDVets is ‘Putting Veterans First Since 1992’ and today all of us are putting Veterans first. We can be very proud of that, and on our part, NDVets looks forward to providing services to Veterans here at the El Monte Veterans Village for years to come.”
The El Monte Veterans Village will also seek to collaboratively address long-standing veteran issues. New Directions for Veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration will provide case management, health and wellness programs, job training, family reunification and legal services, transportation support, among other services, will be available on-site for residents. Adjacent to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10218, downtown El Monte and Metro’s new El Monte Bus Station, the El Monte Veterans Village is uniquely designed to provide veterans with access to services and transportation throughout the greater El Monte area.
Mercy Housing, who will operate and manage the property, is a pioneering developer of service enriched housing and has produced over 7,500 homes in 124 communities throughout California. New Directions for Veterans has been providing the region’s veterans with innovative and impactful service programs since 1992.