Six fewer homeless veterans will be sleeping on the streets.
Officials from Hoboken’s American Legion Post 107, alongside Sen. Bob Menendez, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano, state Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and dozens of veterans, to unveil a new post, community center within the building, and housing units for up to six homeless veterans.
The new $3.2-million building on Second Street, which took four years to build, is a combined effort to repair the old Post 107, which suffered major damage during Hurricane Sandy, and a new initiative to construct six apartments to help homeless veterans get back on their feet.
Paul Spedalier, the American Legion national vice commander, said the project is a classic example of the agency fulfilling its mission of “veterans serving veterans.”
But that’s just the first phase of a plan to give Hoboken homeless veterans shelter. Carey announced Post 107 is now looking toward a second phase — the construction of 18 more apartment units to help give the two to three dozen homeless veterans in the city a safe place to stay.
“Veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on Earth,” Carey said. “The least we can do is give them a roof over their heads. One word that should never be used with veterans: homeless.”
Bhalla said the city’s American Legion members represent “the very best of Hoboken” and praised the cooperation between elected officials to acquire the six vouchers from the state and make this years-old dream of a new post headquarters a reality.
“These brave men and women need our help now more than ever,” he said. “Various levels of government came together with the community for a noble cause.”
Menendez, meanwhile, spoke about the progress that’s been made on the issue of veteran homelessness and his record defending veterans in the U.S. Senate, including standing up to Veterans Affairs and advocating for quality health care for veterans and their families.
He said that in 2010, there were 74,000 homeless veterans throughout America, but today, that number has been cut to 40,000. He vowed that the fight to end veteran homelessness is “far from over” and that no veteran should be sleeping “under a bridge or on a bench.”
“We won’t rest until those 40,000 estimated homeless vets have a place to call home,” Menendez said.
Carey said that once the county identifies which Hoboken veterans are homeless and might be a good fit for the new Post 107 apartments, his staff will go through the process of ensuring the individuals have previously served in the military before offering the individual a unit.
And Menendez, in a claim echoed by Romano, said he is excited about Post 107’s plans to do more.
“I’m ready to support you in round two,” he said.