After a tumultuous years-long process of trying to establish a homeless female veterans’ home in Milford, Home of the Brave has officially signed a lease for a location near downtown Milford.
Home of the Brave signed a year-long lease on Friday to use the previous location of God’s Way to Recovery, located at 9 Causey Ave., which served as a transitional facility for homeless men until February of this year.
In 2012, Home of the Brave planned to open the facility on Griffith Lake Drive in Milford, but because of the need for rezoning and adamant disapproval from local residents, Home of the Brave abandoned hopes of establishing the facility at that location. That house is currently for sale.
The Home of the Brave has not faced the same negative response from the community this time around, said Home of the Brave Executive Director Jessica Finan, but rather has received support and positive feedback.
“There’s been a lot of support going forward with this project,” she said. “It’s a learning process starting a new program, but we’re excited to move forward. It’s been a long time coming.”
City Councilman Dirk Gleysteen said he is pleased to support the veterans through supporting this new downtown facility.
“I think it’s a good location for that, it’s easily accessible and it’s something that the local community needs,” Gleysteen said. “It’s something that we should do to continue to support our service men and women.”
The lease signed with God’s Way to Recovery owner Roger Wood on Friday will allow Home of the Brave to utilize the historic building to house up to eight homeless female veterans and children.
Finan said he receives calls weekly from female veterans, some of whom are mothers, about available housing, and she has been referring those with immediate need to other local housing facilities.
“When people call and are imminently homeless, they can’t wait around for weeks or months,” she said. “First we want to pilot the program and see the need. If we see the program exceeding the occupancy of eight, we could go back to the City of Milford to request an increase.”
The maximum occupancy of eight residents, which would include homeless female veterans and any children they may have, is an exceptional use stipulation set by the City of Milford. From its previous use by God’s Way to Recovery, the building is zoned for commercial use and has the proper variances to operate as a facility for the homeless.
Page 2 of 2 - While Roger Wood of God’s Way to Recovery was hoping to get the lease signed in October, a few extra renovations were needed to get the house up to standards. Wood and volunteers worked to repaint the front and back porches, install carpeting, fix sinks, redo a bathroom, fix rotten boards and whatever else the historic house needed to be ready for new tenants. Wood said approximately $15,000 to $18,000 was spent on renovations.
“I feel good that this place that I’ve used for 14 years to help men, now it can be used to help the veteran women,” Wood said. “To have a place like this right in the city of Milford, it’s a good feeling because you’re helping the veterans, especially the women veterans, and I’d like to see the community also jump in and do whatever they can to help.”
The three-story house, originally built in 1907 by Congressman John Causey, includes a full basement, seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, rec room, chapel room, office, kitchen, family room, living room and attached apartment.
While Wood and his crews have renovated parts of the house, finishing touches, such as furniture, will be the responsibility of Home of the Brave. Wood said he plans to work with the organization on obtaining moderately-priced furniture from local God’s Way to Recovery stores.
“I have the heart for this type of work and I’m going to help any way that I can,” Wood said. “I think Milford will be proud to have a place like this, right here in the center of town. Hopefully they will get the support from the people in the city of Milford.”