Saturday, October 1, 2011

Former Charleston Navy Base Foreclosure Leads To Boot For Homeless Veterans Benefitting From McKinney Act

In Charleston, South Carolina, The Post and Courier reports:

  • Since the Navy shuttered its base in North Charleston, more than 2,000 homeless veterans have lived there, rent-free, as they battled drug and alcohol addiction and tried to repair their lives. They resided in the "Veterans Villas," a series of neat brick ranch homes along Manley Avenue first built for naval officers and their families. Now that this property is owned by S.C. Public Railways, the few dozen veterans there are preparing to move.

  • Melissa Kelly, director of the Chesapeake Health Education Program, said the organization will consolidate operations at its site off Ashley Phosphate Road rather than sign a lease with S.C. Railroad Railways.

  • The Chesapeake Health Education Program, which has run the villas since 1998, originally got access to the properties through the McKinney Act -- a federal law that addressed homelessness in part by giving agencies that serve the homeless free access to surplus federal property.

  • That act no longer applies now that the base property has changed hands. The Noisette Co. had allowed Chesapeake to continue to occupy the homes at no cost -- the nonprofit pays insurance and maintenance costs -- but when the Public Railways acquired the property last year after Noisette's foreclosure, things began to change.


  • For the veterans, who stay in the program about four months on average, the move will mean a longer commute to their treatment at the Veterans Administration health center in downtown Charleston.

  • Their new neighborhood also won't have the same quietude -- or the quality and quantity of nearby parks or the chance to fish in the nearby creek. A regular narcotics support group meeting, known as "Staying Alive," also will relocate.

  • Kelly said the move is most unsettling to some older veterans who have grown familiar with the former base.

For more, see Homeless veterans to leave old base site (Group to relocate men to Ashley Phosphate facility).

Go here for more from HUD on the McKinney-Vento Act.

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