TEMPE – City officials have opened a low-income housing development targeted to veterans and their families to give back to those who served their country.
The 50-unit development, Valor on Eighth near downtown, already has been leased to 45 low-income residents, including 13 veterans and their families, said Tina Lopez, chief development officer for Save the Family Foundation.
“It’s sad to say that a lot of the veterans get overlooked,” Miguel Valencia, who served in the Arizona National Guard, said at Friday’s grand opening ceremony. “Once they’re home, they’re kind of shunned.”
Valencia moved into Valor with his wife and two kids nearly a month ago and said he hopes more housing resources will become available to veterans.
“They come home to poverty and the streets,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling to know there’s people actually caring about people who come back from the armed forces.”
Lopez said rent is based on a family’s income, allowing them to afford other costs of living without worrying about high rent.
According to Lopez, Arizona ranks 48 out of 50 states in the nation for affordable housing, making the complex, which mostly serves one-income families, including many single mothers, vital to the community.
“The ultimate goal for most of our families is that, if they are able to work, we are going to try to get them into a job where they are earning a living wage,” she said. Then, they can move on and “make room for someone who may be a little bit worse off than them.”
Some of the residents will be living at the complex long-term due to mental or physical disabilities that will not allow them to have a full-time job, Lopez added.
“They took care of us, so now it’s time for us to give back,” Lopez said.
Five units include lofts where entrepreneurs can open their own businesses. One advertised a tax business.
Tempe provided the land for the project and worked with the Arizona Department of Housing and the developer, Gorman & Co.
Save the Family Foundation created financial, health and educational programs so families can “get themselves back on their feet and become self-sufficient,” Lopez said.
Valencia wants his children to attend an after-school program, proud that his youngest can go from preschool to a program that gets her “a little bit more ahead.”