Gainesville To Partner With VA To Aid Homeless Vets


Homeless veterans in Gainesville may soon have a place to stay.

Gainesville’s City Commission approved a motion on Thursday to partner with the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry and the local Veteran’s Administration Office.

This partnership will provide services for homeless veterans in Alachua County.

VA officials have previously expressed a need for housing for veterans, and asked if that need could be met at the Empowerment Center, located at GRACE Marketplace, according to the meeting agenda.

With this agreement, the coalition will be responsible for providing supportive services such as shelter, meals and building management. The VA would pay up to $180,000 per year for services from the coalition and provide case management services to veterans as well.

The city would renovate the center to provide a designated area for homeless veterans. The building construction and repairs are estimated at $380,000 to be paid for by the city. The ACCHH would cover the cost of interior renovations.

The total cost of the project is more than $1.2 million over the next five years.


Commissioner Todd Chase supports the proposal.

“This actually brings a program that is incredibly well-run and almost a model of motivating and driving people to improve their lives,” he said. “Given the choice to fund anything, I would fund supporting veterans of the United States military.”

Other committee members had concerns about investing so much money in the project.

Commissioner Charles Goston said there will have to be a lot of care concerning the treatment of veterans. He said, as a veteran himself, he didn’t go to the VA because he received the “poorest service in the world.”

“I don’t feel comfortable with [just] any interaction out there with the veterans,” said Goston. “These men and women are going to need considerable attention … they’re not homeless for nothing.”

Chief of Community Care Services Vianne Marchese assured the commissioner that the VA staff knows what they’re doing.

“I don’t sign the check unless they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” said Marchese.

Even with those concerns, the partnership among the City of Gainesville, the coalition and the VA had support behind it.

About Carel Lajara

Carel is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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