Dane County to build largest veterans family housing development in country

Dane County to build largest veterans family housing development in country

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Thursday that the county-owned Messner property will be developed into housing and services for veterans and their families.

The facility will be the largest of its kind in the country, according to the news release from Parisi.

“Veterans and their families have given so much to our country,” Parisi said in the release. “We it owe to them to help them when they come home.”

Michael Paukner, a veteran of the Air Force knows just how important it is to have resources specifically designated for veterans.

“People who haven’t been through it have no idea what it’s like,” he said. “It’s great to just have a place; we have a lot of services here and they can help you with just any problem that may arise,” Paukner said.

Paukner was diagnosed with PTSD after serving 20 years in the Air Force. He drives once a wee k from Spring Green to Madison for a PTSD class through DryHootch, a nonprofit that provides resources to veterans.

“I think it’s given me a brighter side of life, more things to look forward to,” he said.

Dane County sought proposals for development this summer. Gorman & Co. and Dryhootch were selected for the development, which will be called called Valor on Washington. The two and three bedroom apartments will be a mix of affordable and market price apartments. The rent will range anywhere from $900 to $1,300 a month.

Dryhootch is currently in an 1,800-square-foot space on University Avenue. The new space in the first floor of Valor on Washington will increase the programing space.

“When you talk about employment offices, when you talk about any community organization being involved in that location, that is profound. They are right there and that helps the transition,” said Otis Winstead, Director of Dryhootch WI.

The new programming space will include a coffee shop open to the public, workout facilities, group areas for writing, art and support groups, a mechanic shop, training spaces and a video game area, according to the release.

“It shows our commitment to not only affordable housing in Dane County but to providing opportunity for a veteran also and thanking them for the service they provided and recognizing the unique needs that vets–particularly vets with families–may be facing,” Parisi said.

Paukner said the proposal, as well as support from the community and the county, helps veterans know they are not alone.

“It lets a guy know that the community does care about him and there is help out there. They are just not out there by themselves,” he said.

Gorman & Co. hope to receive grant money to help pay for the construction. A resolution to approve the proposal will go before the Dane County Board on Thursday, then the city permitting process. If approved, they hope to start construction in 2019 and open in 2020.