JOLIET – A house on Center Street has been converted into a home for six veterans.
The house is run by Family & Friends Day Center Inc., a social service agency with two other veterans houses in Joliet.
Catherine Beavers, who heads Family & Friends, hosted an open house Friday for the new veterans home.
Beavers and others at the open house talked about the need for veterans housing in Joliet and throughout the United States.
“They say there are 1,500 veterans a day that are sleeping in the streets. There’s such a need,” Beavers said. “We’re trying to permanently house them because there are so many on the streets.”
The house at 1 N. Center St. is different from the two other houses operated by Family & Friends. The other two – at 105 McDonough St. and 725 Wilcox St. – provide transition housing where 14 veterans can stay as long as two years while locating permanent housing or finding employment to become self-sufficient.
Veterans who move into 1 N. Center St. can stay as long as they want.
Among those at the open house Friday was Tom Deegan, a social worker at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital’s Joliet Outpatient Clinic.
Deegan called the new veterans house “a wonderful place where they can move into at an affordable rent and receive the support that Cathy offers. ... It’s very vet-centric.”
Veterans at the three houses receive employment counseling and other services provided by Beavers in conjunction with other community agencies. Some may be in school while staying at the houses.
“It’s very hard [for veterans] to come back into an economy that’s already struggling and get all your ducks in a row,” Deegan said.
Beavers has provided veterans with housing since 2009. She credits her son, Jesse Moore, who runs Heroes Place, a service center for veterans in Washington, D.C.
“My son talked me into it,” she said, noting that Jesse is a veteran himself.
Beavers said the need for veterans is great. Last week, she helped find housing for three veterans in other housing units that she does not run. She welcomes the arrival of Hope Manor Joliet, a 67-apartment veterans complex that Volunteers of America Illinois plans to open at the old Silver Cross Hospital campus in fall 2016.
“That’s going to be a blessing,” Beavers said.
Kristi Kiper-McNichol, superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Will County, said so far this year she has worked with 18 homeless veterans seeking housing.
“The housing support that she [Beavers] offers is amazing,” Kiper-McNichol said.
The first veteran at 1 N. Center St. is expected to move in next week. Others have been calling.
“It will get filled up quickly,” Kiper-McNichol said.