“Soldier On” is a philosophy and the name
of the nonprofit behind the community.
must also pay $2,500 to buy a limited-equity
ownership in the development.
If the down payment proves too steep,
local banks may lend them the money
interest-free or give outright donations to
Soldier On, the nonprofit that created this
community and works with federal, state
and local agencies to provide shelter, support and job training for homeless vets.
The $6.1 million project, built with federal, state and private foundation grants, is
debt-free. Each vet receives his share of any
rent money left over after the center pays
for insurance, maintenance and reserves for
repairs. This year, each vet will pay around
$7,000 in rent and get back around $2,100. If
a stakeholder decides to move or dies, Soldier On will buy back his share for $2,500.
“It’s a great project,” says Pete Dougherty,
Gaining a home
director of homeless veterans programs for
the Department of Veteran Affairs. “It’s the
only one with equity shares, and their board
of directors includes veterans who deter-
mine their own needs, rather than have oth-
ers tell them what to do.”
Already a successful model, the com-
munity is being replicated in other places.
A new project for 60 homes to be built on
the campus of the VA Medical Center in
Northampton, Mass., just received federal
funding. A similar project in Agawam, Mass.,
has land to build. Soldier On was recently
funded for a similar project for female vets
and their children, and has two more sites in
mind in Massachusetts. Dougherty expects
the model to expand nationwide.
“Think about it. We’ve taken people from being homeless to homeownership,” says Jack
Downing, president of Soldier On. “These