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VA Under Secretary for Health Leads Grand Opening for 62-Unit Valley Brook Village for Veterans

Dedication of First-in-the-Nation Affordable Permanent Supportive Housing Development for Homeless and Disabled Veterans on Vacant Federal Land at Lyons VA Campus

October 31, 2013

LYONS, NJ — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Health joined representatives from the VA New Jersey Health Care System, Peabody Properties, Inc., Community Hope, Windover Development, MetLife, the National Equity Fund and LISC in celebrating the grand opening of Valley Brook Village, an affordable permanent supportive rental housing project in Bernards Township, Somerset County, for homeless and at-risk low income veterans.

Under Secretary for Health Robert A. Petzel, M.D., commended the project as “the first to be built and completed” under the Enhanced Use Lease program, enacted by Congress to utilize Federal surplus land to create housing for homeless veterans. He called it one of the largest collaborations of the private and public sector to serve homeless veterans and that ending veteran homelessness is “not something the VA can do alone.” “It is too daunting for any one organization to shoulder,” said Petzel.

The $15.5 million project was conceived by Peabody Properties and Community Hope and developed by Peabody and Windover Development. Funding for the project was made possible with an allocation from the NJ Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), an affiliate of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), of approximately $1.9 million in construction and permanent financing through the Special Needs Housing Trust Fund, and federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that generated approximately $8.4 million in private equity from MetLife. ® placed the LIHTC and worked with the Corporation of Supportive Housing and Boston Community Loan Fund as joint construction lenders. Additional funding came from the VA, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and its member bank, Lakeland Bank, and Somerset County HOME Funds.

Located on the campus of the VA New Jersey Health Care System in Lyons, New Jersey, Valley Brook Village is a new construction of three buildings that provide a total of 62 housing units around a common village green. Among the housing units, 50 have been awarded projectbased housing vouchers under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program to provide rental assistance to chronically homeless veterans. In addition to permanent housing support, the program provides long-term case management and supportive services for the veterans. The HUD-VASH units are administered for HUD by DCA and VASH case management services are provided by Community Hope pursuant to a contract with the VA. The remaining units provide housing to homeless veterans who meet the income eligibility requirements or have their own tenantbased voucher. The three-story main building contains 50 housing units, offices for management and social services, a community room, a vocational training and computer room and an elevator. The two smaller buildings that look like townhomes contain 12 one-bedroom units.

The 16-acre housing community is conveniently located near shopping, community resources, and facilities, including two grocery stores, two pharmacies, two libraries, and medical services on-site at the VA Medical Center. The NJ Transit Lyons train station, a handicap accessible facility located less than a mile from the site, provides transportation to the entire nation via connections in Newark or New York. On-site, a van is available to transport residents to local shops and services, in addition to 70 parking spaces for residents, staff, and visitors. Designed to be highly energy efficient and handicapped accessible, Valley Brook Village complies with HMFA’s own green building program called the New Jersey Green Futures Program that covers energy efficiency, renewable sources, siting and land use, water conservation, building durability, indoor air quality, operations, and maintenance, and complies with barrier free and accessibility standards. On track to obtain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the project features unit amenities that include high efficiency central air-conditioning and heat and Energy Star-rated appliances.

Community Hope, the social service provider of the project, will provide case management services to all residents of Valley Brook Village, as well as programming and outreach coordination and vocational training, Community Hope is the largest nonprofit organization providing housing and services to homeless veterans and veteran families in and around New Jersey. The nonprofit expects to help as many as 1,000 veterans and their families to overcome homelessness in the year ahead.

The project was jointly developed by Peabody Properties and Windover Development. Peabody Properties, is a multifaceted firm that provides property management services for more than 10,000 units of residential housing with more than 4,000 of these units for elderly and or disabled residents. The team recently finished a 32-unit VASH-supported development for homeless Veterans and is currently working on two additional EUL developments for Veterans. Windover Construction also served as the General Contractor for the Valley Brook and The Architectural Team was the Project’s Architect.

The investment is part of a broader effort by MetLife for veterans housing. MetLife and MetLife Foundation are committing $40.5 million to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit community development intermediary, and its affiliate, the National Equity Fund (NEF), to increase affordable housing with supportive social services for veterans, who comprise nearly 20 percent of the national homeless population.

For more information on housing and services for homeless veterans, call the VA National Homeless Hotline at 1-877-4AID VET or Community Hope at 908-647-5717 extension 325.

Valley Brook Village Ribbon Cutting

Cutting the ribbon to commemorate the official opening of Valley Brook Village are (from left) Anthony Marchetta, NJ Housing & Mortgage Finance Agency; Deborah DeSantis, Corporation for Supportive Housing; Community Hope CEO J. Michael Armstrong; VA Under Secretary for Health Petzel; Veteran Joe Malcolm; Larry Oaks, LISC; Kenneth Mizrach, VA NJ Health Care System Director; Matthew Sheedy, MetLife; Somerset County Freeholder Patricia Walsh; Michael Sabo, VA NY/NJ Network Director; Peter Gourdeau, Windover Construction; Elizabeth Collins, Peabody Properties; Melissa Fish Crane, Peabody Properties; and Bernards Township Mayor Carolyn Gaziano.

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