New Affordable-Housing Community for Homeless Veterans Now Open at Fort Snelling

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  • CommonBond Communities transforms five historic structures into
    58-unit affordable-housing development
  • Upper Post Veterans Community offers studio, one-, two- and
    three-bedroom apartments with support services for homeless veterans
    and their families
  • Funding received from many public-private partners, including
    $9.3 million from UnitedHealth Group and $5.5 million from Minnesota
    Housing

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Military veterans and their families struggling with homelessness now
have new homes and resources to help end the cycle of homelessness, with
the completion of a 58-unit affordable-housing community at Fort
Snelling.


During a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and open house, newly moved-in
residents, veterans groups, project partners and community leaders
heralded Upper Post Veterans Community as vital in helping reach the
goal of ending homelessness among military veterans in Minnesota.

Austin Poons, a veteran who served in the United States Army in the
1970s, was one of the first residents to move into Upper Post Veterans
Community. Through the years, Poons has suffered from post-traumatic
stress and major depressive disorder and in recent years has struggled
with homelessness. Along with his nine-year-old golden retriever,
Dutchess, Poon’s new home and life is making a difference. He and
Dutchess keep a busy schedule helping others and volunteering at the
Veterans Hospital.

“For the first time in two years, probably more, I feel at peace,” said
Poon. “I am in a better place mentally and I love this place. Everything
is so convenient – the Veterans Administration is a couple of blocks
away and I have a park nearby. I feel like I am home for a long time.”

Congressman Erik Paulsen, a longtime supporter of the project, joined
Poons and other newly moved-in residents for a tour of their new homes.

“Minnesota’s veterans and heroes have sacrificed for our nation, and we
have a responsibility to ensure that they have the support and resources
needed when they come home,” he said. “A large part of that support
includes safe, affordable housing, and the new units at Fort Snelling
will mean a better life for a number of veterans.”

CommonBond Communities, which has served the region for more than 40
years and is the Midwest’s largest nonprofit provider of affordable
housing with supportive services, responded to the challenge of bringing
an end to veteran homelessness with the transformation of five historic
structures into the new veterans community.

Upper Post Veterans Community features 58 studio, one-, two- and
three-bedroom apartments equipped with central air conditioning, vaulted
ceilings and walk-in closets, among other amenities. Common areas for
residents include a computer lab, courtyard, elevators, laundry
facility, lounge, media center and community room.

CommonBond, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other
partners, has created the Advantage Center, which will provide onsite
social and support counseling and monitoring, academic and job training,
and other services for residents.

“This is a proud moment for so many of us as this new community truly
serves as a model for helping address the growing need for permanent
housing and services for military veterans,” said Deidre Schmidt,
president and CEO of CommonBond Communities. “Of course, we wouldn’t be
here today without the support of so many partners who helped transform
these five buildings into a vibrant community that will serve our
veterans and their families for years to come.”

A collaboration of many public- and private-sector partners helped
secure the $17.2 million to build Upper Post Veterans Community.

Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group was the largest investor, providing
$9.3 million in equity through a partnership with the Minnesota Equity
Fund (MEF), using Low Income Housing and Historic Preservation Tax
Credits approved by the state. Minnesota Housing allocated $5.5 million
in Housing Infrastructure Bonds.

“Today marks an important milestone in helping end homelessness among
Minnesota’s veterans and their families,” said Minnesota Housing
Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, who co-chairs the Minnesota Interagency
Council on Homelessness, the coalition of 11 state agencies that are
working to prevent and end homelessness. “This new community gives hope
that we can and will end veteran and chronic homelessness in our state.”

“We are grateful to be a part of this project that will have a
tremendous impact in helping to end homelessness among our veterans,”
said Tom Wiffler, chief operating officer, UnitedHealthcare Military &
Veterans, which provides health care services for nearly 2.9 million
service members, military retirees and their families. “Upper Post
Veterans Community will provide housing and support services so veterans
can live healthier lives, and help those with the greatest need break
the cycle of homelessness and poverty.”

“The completion of this new veterans community helps meet the critical
need to provide military families with quality, permanent housing with
supportive services,” said Warren Hanson, president and CEO of the
Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF). “The Minnesota Equity Fund will
continue its work to invest in well-designed, high-quality
affordable-housing developments that provide new hope and opportunities
for our veterans and their families.”

Additional funding partners include the Family Housing Fund, Hennepin
County, Ramsey County, Home Depot Foundation, Metropolitan Council,
NeighborWorks America and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Major
League Baseball, the Pohlad Family Foundation, Twins Community Fund and
the Minnesota Twins provided $700,000 to fund the Advantage Center.

“We are proud to step up to the plate and support this important
community that will serve Minnesota veterans and their families for
years to come,” said Dave St. Peter, Minnesota Twins president. “Through
the onsite Advantage Center, residents are connected with programs and
services that are the lifeline working-age adults need to stabilize
their lives, youth need to be academically successful, and individuals
with disabilities need to live independently.”

More than 50 veterans and their families have moved into Upper Post
Veterans Community as of the end of September. Full occupancy is
expected by mid-October.

To learn more about Upper Post Veterans Community, make a donation to
support veteran residents, or volunteer to serve as mentors and family
companions to support the residents and their families, visit www.commonbond.org
or call 651-291-1750.

About CommonBond Communities: CommonBond Communities, the
Midwest’s largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing with
services, has served the region for over 40 years. CommonBond develops,
owns or manages over 5,400 affordable rental apartments and townhomes
throughout 50 cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. CommonBond is
considered a national leader and innovator in the affordable housing and
community development field. For more information visit www.commbond.org,
or follow @commonbondcomm on Twitter.

About Minnesota Housing Finance Agency: Minnesota Housing
finances affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income
Minnesotans while fostering strong communities. Find out more at www.mnhousing.gov,
Twitter @mnhousing and at www.facebook.com/minnesotahousing.

About The Minnesota Equity Fund: MEF is a subsidiary of the
Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF), a non-profit Community
Development Financial Institution, established by The McKnight
Foundation and Blandin Foundation. GMHF provides loans, equity
investments, grants and technical assistance to create affordable
housing in Minn. MEF’s initial fund is a strategic partnership between
GMHF and Great Lakes Capital Fund (GLCF), a nationally recognized
syndicator of low-income housing tax credits with $2.5 billion under
management and expertise in affordable housing.

About UnitedHealth Group: UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a
diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people
live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better
for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and
services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which
provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which
provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more
information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com
or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

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Contacts

CommonBond Communities
Jeff Nelson, 651-290-6201