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Housing facility helps military veterans in South King County

Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center has signed an agreement with a Federal Way property owner and plans to develop the land into housing for military veterans.

South King County has a high number of veterans — and a need for greater services to cater to them, said Dini Duclos, Multi-Service Center CEO. In South King County, there is no affordable housing south of Renton available specifically to veterans.

“I’ve been thinking about (housing for veterans) for the last year, two years maybe, but there wasn’t any funding out there,” Duclos said.

Veterans confront unimaginable hardships once they return from war. Some are physically or mentally disabled. Trained to take lives, they must learn how to reintegrate into society.

“I can’t imagine what these men and women are facing,” Duclos said.

The 26-unit housing project, located on 0.2 acres at 29404 Pacific Highway S. in Federal Way, will help make veterans’ lives a bit easier. The housing will be located on a bus line with views of Puget Sound. It will welcome low-income and homeless men, women and families. Studios, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments will be available. Residents must qualify for assistance from Veterans Affairs to live in the housing. In most respects, the housing will be much like any other apartment complex.

“The only difference is these people have a common background,” Duclos said.

It’s too early to know what amenities will be offered, but the Multi-Service Center currently plans on including case management, financial management assistance and children’s programs, said Manuela Ginnett, MSC Housing Program director.

The project costs $8.1 million. Federal funding and tax credits are likely to provide a majority of the funding, Duclos said, but securing money for construction and services could take a few years.

“I just wish the money was easier to come by,” Duclos said. “The need is out there and it’s going to get greater.”

MSC’s upcoming steps, while it chases money, will include architectural design work. MSC staff plans to solicit design help from the Compass Center, which operates veterans housing in Renton.

Aside from the Multi-Service Center’s housing project, there are no other South King County affordable housing projects that solely serve veterans. Valley Cities Landing, a 24-unit housing project in Auburn, houses low-income and homeless people in addition to those suffering from mental illness. Twelve of the units are dedicated to housing veterans. Andrew’s Glen, a 40-unit affordable housing complex in Bellevue, is scheduled to open late this year. The facility will offer 20 units to veterans. A range of onsite services are offered at Valley Cities Landing and will be included at Andrew’s Glen.

Veterans Affairs sees the proposed Federal Way housing as beneficial. Federal Way is one of three King County cities to feature Veterans Affairs community clinics. Ken LeBlond, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System spokesman, called MSC’s proposed housing a “win-win” situation. Veterans will get housing and services in one location.

“We’re very supportive of housing that is specifically for veterans,” LeBlond said.

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