NASHVILLE, TN – Officials broke ground on a 39-unit building for homeless veterans in the Edgehill district Thursday, May 22. The project is the first of its kind in Nashville to provide permanent affordable housing to formerly homeless veterans. They will move in next Spring and use VASH vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help pay the rent.
William Paisley knows what it’s like to not have, and then find a place to live. He was homeless for five years. “I grew up right down the street here. This is my old neighborhood as matter of fact,” Paisley said.
From 1979-83 Paisley was a radio operator on a sub tender out of South Carolina. He got out, fell on hard times, but eventually found work and has his own apartment now. “I was invited to come and represent the veterans who are trying to find affordable housing. I’ve been in their shoes. Who would know better except veterans have been in their shoes before?” he asked.
“Some of us struggle. All of us struggle to some degree,” said Jim Harbison, Executive Director of Metropolitan District Housing Authority (MDHA). “But this fantastic public-private partnership is a manifestation of our public’s commitment to its veterans and it’s taken a village and a family to put it together,” he said.
Harbison noted developer Tony Giarratana first came up with the idea for the project. He, Architect Earl Swensson, and the builder RG Anderson, are doing the project pro bono. Harbison thanked record producer and philanthropist Mike Curb for his $500,000 gift and also Ralph Perrey, Executive Director Tennessee Housing Development Authority (THDA), for a matching $500,000 grant. MDHA won a $6 million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to pay for the project’s construction costs.
“When we come to break ground or cut a ribbon I like to think of it as a statement of the city’s values,” said Mayor David Briley. “For MDHA it’s about finding a place for folks who don’t have a place to live to get permanent housing to find a way to lift themselves up and to reach their fullest potential. That’s what we value in Nashville,” said Briley.
“I think we owe them,” said THDA’s Perrey. “None of them should ever be left to live alone on the streets in the country that they honorably served. So on behalf of all of my colleagues at THDA to all of you who are committed to ending homelessness among our veterans in Tennessee I say simply ‘count us in’.”
The project, called Curb Victory Hall, will face Carter Lawrence Elementary School across the street. Curb Victory Hall on the northeast corner of Edgehill and 12thAve. S. next to Operation Stand Down Tennessee, a veterans’ social service agency. Its offices are undergoing a renovation and it will continue to provide services to veterans.