Veterans Village Plans for the Future

By Chloe Short
Delta Digital News Service

JONESBORO — The Veterans Village coming to Jonesboro features major plans.

More than 5,000 veterans live in Craighead County and around 200 of those veterans are reported as living below poverty level. The Veterans Village plans to help homeless veterans get back on their feet.

The Beck Pride Center will be active in the Veterans Village by making sure the right services and paperwork are provided to the homeless veterans. Interested students with majors in social work, counseling, physical therapy and other degrees from Arkansas State University will work with The Beck Pride Center through volunteering or internships to assist in the Veterans Village. Individuals from the Veterans Village will be able to receive those services after they have left.

Beck Pride Center director Lynda Nash (photo by Chloe Short)

“Veterans have been a productive member of society in the past. Something’s happened, so at that point we want to put them back in that role again. They’ve given to society, they continue to give and they should be honored for that,” said Lynda Nash, director of Beck Pride Center.

Other organizations waiting to get involved are the Disabled American Veterans Group, Veterans of Modern Warfare and the PTSD Foundation. The village will find residents through word of mouth but also through law enforcement expressing concern, veteran’s service groups, contacts through other veterans, and by contacting those who show up at the HUB downtown.

Nash said she’s pleased the Veterans Village is set for Jonesboro, since she will now have local options for them and their families if needed. Sending veterans needing housing assistance to Memphis, Tennessee or Poplar Bluff, Missouri are currently the only options available.

“Once accepted, they’re willing to work a program, so it can lead to a more permanent setting for them,” Nash said.

The village’s development on Aggie Road will be built down from Pepsi Beverage warehouse. The Cooper-Mixon Architect Firm originated all of the design aspects and created housing to meet the needs of each individual. Hillary Starnes, Jonesboro’s community services manager, said the homes should be completed by late 2020.

John Mixon, architect at the Cooper-Mixon Architect Firm, said nine homes will be built: two homes are made for families and the other seven are designed for single occupants. Each house features a different exterior. The village includes a community building and a community pavilion.

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Sign on site of the future home of the Veterans Village. (photo by Chloe Short)

“The Veterans’ Village is a fully accessible community with different scales of experiences and a continuum of public to private life,” Mixon said.

Arkansas Development Finance Authority granted $1 million to cover funding needs for the Veterans Village. The Arkansas Development Finance Authority released a Notice of Funds Available and received three applications. Cheryl Schluterman, president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, said each application must meet application completeness, fulfill requirements and be financially feasible. Of the three applicants, Jonesboro met the criteria.

“There is still funding available for other projects. So far, Jonesboro is the only recipient of National Housing Trust Funds in Arkansas,” Schluterman said.

Bill Campbell, director of communication for Jonesboro and spokesperson for the mayor, said the mayor is going forth with the challenge to end veterans’ homelessness.

The city will be providing transportation at the village. There will be a bus stop, bicycles and a bike rack. The JET system will be an option. The village accommodates veteran’s dogs as well.

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