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Last updated: Fri. Dec. 09, 2011 - 02:38 pm EDT

For homeless vets, a base

South Calhoun center to house men, women

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How to help

Liberty Landing 2833 S. Calhoun St.

Needs: Donations, specifically workout equipment and flat-screen televisions

•For more information or to make a donation, call Carol Cartwright at 260-755-6135

FORT WAYNE — Local volunteers and officials will help house nearly 10 percent of the estimated 400 homeless veterans in the Fort Wayne area at a new transitional housing facility on South Calhoun Street.

A ceremony Thursday lauded the opening of the new Liberty Landing, a center that will target homeless or disabled veterans, and offer them housing and help with substance abuse, mental illness or stress disorders. Those accepted into the facility must be approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs, according to Carol Cartwright, the center’s program director.

Although the facility has the potential to eventually house 49 residents, the staff will concentrate on accommodating 30 residents during the first year of operation, Cartwright said.

“We want to do it slowly and do it right,” Cartwright said.

After officials complete staffing, they will begin the process of admitting residents. The center should see occupancy of residents by the end of the year, she said.

The home is sponsored by Volunteers of America, and the $1.1 million project was made possible with grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis and the Home Depot Foundation, according to Mary Leffler, Volunteers of America spokeswoman.

The building location at 2833 S. Calhoun St. was ideal, Leffler said, because it was centrally located to local resources and transportation. It was also already zoned for such a facility, which accommodated the short window on getting grants from Veterans Affairs, she said.

Homeless veterans will initially be housed in a group ward until receiving satisfactory assessments and a recommendation for a private room, Cartwright said. Veterans are limited to a stay of two years, and during that time, staff will work with them toward becoming self-sufficient, she said.

Services offered will include transportation; counseling of all types, including substance abuse; vocational and employment training; stress and anger management classes; financial counseling; and cooking classes, as well as support services upon release.

According to Timothy Campbell, Volunteers of America president and CEO, there are an estimated 75,609 homeless veterans in the United States, including 1,300 in Indiana, on any given night.

Nationally, Volunteers of America serves more than 7,700 homeless veterans each year through 35 programs in 15 states.

But one area sorely lacking in similar programs is care and counseling for the female veterans that the country is now seeing in record numbers, Campbell said.

Campbell commended Fort Wayne for accommodating both male and female veterans at Liberty Landing.

The facility includes private rooms with one or two beds, a nine-bed men’s ward for incoming residents, a commercial kitchen, recreation room, exercise room, library and computer room, a women’s wing that accommodates four, and handicap-accessible shower, bathroom and dressing room facilities.

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