MEDFORD, Ore. -- Veterans who were once in need now have a place to call home all thanks to ColumbiaCare.
“Just the overall prevailing tone was just excitement and gratitude from everybody here. Just so thankful for the opportunity and just really looking forward to getting settled into this new place,” said Veteran Services director Joseph Chick.
On Friday, ColumbiaCare announced that construction on a block of affordable housing units intended to serve local veterans is now complete. On Monday, five veterans moved into the units.
“Means everything. I mean, it's hard to really work on any kind of goals or objectives or anything you want to accomplish without having a safe, comfortable place to stay every night. So, for a lot of these guys, you know, this might be the first time they've had that for years and just creates an opportunity to really work on any other goals they have — whether that's employment, education, reuniting with family, whatever it is,” Chick added.
The Stewart Avenue Apartments will include an on-site Resident Manager to welcome new residents and support them while they live in the buildings, and features an office and community room for tenants to engage in social activities or classes once COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
“I mean, we have guys that are, you know, working on employment goals. We have guys that are trying to get reunited with some family. Um, and this is just really that big first step. So, for, for them really at this point, the sky's the limit. This was just that, that beginning phase for them,” Chick said.
Elias Montemayor is one of the veterans who have moved into the new housing units. He was in the service for three years. His time in the service included time in Camp Pendleton.
“When I got out, even then life was tough because addiction goes way back,” Montemayor said.
He said then life only got tougher with his addiction.
“I was homeless and unemployed and it was really taxing on my mental health,” Montemayor added.
One day he decided to make a change and reach out for help. That’s where he found ColumbiaCare.
“That team banded together, without them I wouldn’t be here,” Montemayor said.
Montemayor has been living in Oregon for 33 years and his new home is giving him a new outlook on life.
“I’m celebrating a new lease on life . . . it’s a great experience, it’s a wonderful feeling,” Montemayor concluded.